CJ-5 Fire Service Jeeps


CJs On the Job in Exeter Township PA

Pennsylvania A 1999 article in Jp magazine suggested that over 3,000 Jeeps were still in service with fire departments in the United States. Exeter Township VFD, northwest of Philadelphia, is one department doing their share to keep that statistic valid.

Their Brush 25 is a 1974 CJ-5 equipped with an 80-gallon tank, 265 feet of brush hose, chain saw and 8000-lb. winch. It was joined at this fire scene in January 2022 by Unit 25-1, their 1984 CJ-8 Scrambler (280K JPEG) which carries 110 gallons and feeds 300 feet of hose with a high pressure pump. Photos by Eric Thrush.

Brookfield Brookfield Township Fire & EMS in Ohio has had 4x4 grassfire capability since buying a surplus Army truck in 1949, and as of 2018 they were another department that listed two Jeeps on their roster, both 1977 CJ-5s -- Units 18 and 181.

West Bradford PA

West Bradford circa 1971

West Bradford Fire Company in Pennsylvania set up this great shot of their apparatus circa 1971. Their brand new CJ-5 (with Smokey Bear's picture on it) is on the left, and their '63 CJ-5 on the right. They had owned a '53 CJ-3B earlier, and would later get an '85 CJ-7.

Factory Fire Jeep

CJ-5Factory-built fire Jeeps were given their own series of serial numbers starting in 1955, when both a CJ-3B Fire Engine and a CJ-5 Fire Engine (see an advertising brochure, 50K GIF) were offered by Willys, as well as a 6-226 truck (see Willys-Overland Production Figures for details). There don't appear to have been many of the CJ-5 version built; this is the only factory photo I have seen. Like many factory Jeep fire engines, it was assembled by Howe Fire Apparatus of Anderson, Indiana.

Fire Jeep Number 1

10001Tremaine Cooper reported that "I just brought home what I was told was a '57 CJ-5. The serial number is 57048-02 10001. The prefix is for a factory fire Jeep (see Willys-Overland Production Figures 1945-1961) so it appears to be the first CJ-5 fire Jeep, the only one built in the 1955 model year. There are a couple odd holes left, but no obvious fire apparatus on it. Much of the chassis is still painted red. I would love to hear any other info if anyone has any."

Crown Firecoach

1956 CJ-5 "Firecoach" was the name given to the fire apparatus built by Crown Coach Corporation in Los Angeles between 1951 and 1983. Crown was one of the few apparatus builders who jumped on the CJ-5 platform. Their serial number F1078 was a 1956 CJ-5 delivered to Firestone Tire Company in South Gate CA in 1957.

The Firestone plant (40K JPEG) in South Gate opened in 1928. Its distinctive office building still stands in 2023, but the plant was closed in 1980. At that time one of the plant managers bought the Jeep, and it was later purchased by Rob Qualls and donated to the Los Angeles County Fire Museum, where it's seen in this photo courtesy of eWillys.

Joe Woyjeck photo The Willys featured a combination of dry chemical cylinder and CO2 extinguishers on the front, and water tank in the rear. This dual-attack configuration had been developed by Crown a few years earlier for some CJ-3Bs sold to Douglas Aircraft (see Airfield Crash Rescue Jeeps.)

A photo by Joe Woyjeck from the Winter 2012 issue of Fire Warden, the newsletter of the LA County Fire Museum, shows a load of 2-1/2" hose as well as the booster reel.

Pump The Viking PTO-powered 350 GPM pump was located under the tank, as seen here just in front of the hose reel. See also a closer shot of the reel (140K JPEG) and the pump controls. Thanks to Britt Michael.

1958 CJ-5 A similar configuration, with the booster reel moved to the top of the tank, beside a radio, was used by Crown on three CJ-5s delivered to Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach for use on the flight line. The front bumper was extended further to accommodate a larger, 150-pound Ansul dry chem cylinder and its nitrogen propellant.

Firecoach #F1147, model CP-15-CJ5, is seen here in a factory photo by Warren Bowen from the Firecoach Archives. See also a side view photo (400K JPEG).

1958 CJ-5 This may be the same 1958 CJ-5, photographed some time after its retirement from the aircraft company (which had become McDonnell Douglas in 1967.) The extended front bumper, rear step bumper, radio and lights were gone but the 150-gallon tank and 200-foot booster line remained, along with the distinctive bikini top. See also a front view photo (50K JPEG).

1958 CJ-5 Another of the Douglas Aircraft '58s (see the Douglas inventory tag, 30K JPEG) apparently went to a fire company in Minnesota, where it was auctioned in 2014. See also the interior and the booster reel (70K JPEGs).

See more on the Crown Firecoach CJ-5s in Airfield Crash Rescue Jeeps.

More Conversions

East BrandywineRecently refurbished by East Brandywine Fire Company in Pennsylvania, Brush 49 is a 70's-vintage CJ-5 with a 70-gallon tank and a 90 GPM pump. It also carries other goodies, including a chain saw on the front bumper (60K JPEG). East Brandywine is a mutual aid company with Modena FC and West Bradford FC, who both run CJ-7 brush units.

Brookfield Most fire service CJ-5s were converted or adapted by local fire departments. Brush 36 of New Richmond Fire & EMS in Ohio was simply given a 50-gallon tank and portable pump. The 1983 CJ-5 was still in occasional brushfire service when it was photographed by Bob Christy on display at Toledo Jeepfest in 2016.

Oshtemo 573This photo of a 1979 CJ-5 used by the Oshtemo Township Fire Department in Michigan, was sent by Jim Fairweather. The Jeep, on loan from the Department of Natural Resources, carried 80 gallons of water. As of 2015 it has been replaced by a Rubicon.

Jim Fairweather spotted an interesting pair of CJ-5 "Fire Plows" on the website of Spokane County (WA) Fire District 4. Jim says, "Plow 44 is an early 5. Plow 41 (20K JPEG) looks like a '72 or later. Unknown if they use purpose-built fireline plows, or Monroe 3-pt. hitch and an agricultural plow. They look to be a disk-type plow." The front toolboxes on the Jeeps appear to be serving as both counterweights and equipment storage.

High RidgeUnit 6418 of the High Ridge Fire Department in Missouri is a 1973 CJ-5 used on brush fires that are inaccessible by other means. In addition to the front winch and the pick head axe mounted on the side, equipment carried includes bolt cutters, hydrant tool, spotlight, leaf blower, backpack-style water tank with sprayer, chainsaw, extra fuel, 55-gallon water tank, 150 feet of 3/4-inch hose, 50 feet of 1-1/2 inch hose, and a rake.

Highland TownshipHighland Township Fire Dept. in Michigan had this 1979 CJ-5 in service until 1998.

MichiganBig Rapids, Michigan, Department of Public Safety Fire Division runs a 1968 CJ-5 as Grass Rig 1-9. The Jeep was surplus from the U.S. Forestry Service, and was rebuilt by the fire fighters. It's primarily used for grass fires, but also allows access to locations other apparatus can't reach, and can tow the Division's inflatable water and ice rescue boat (40K JPEG).

Brush Unit Lost in Maryland

MarylandUnit BX 36 of the Baden Volunteer Fire Department in southern Prince George's County, Maryland, was a 1978 CJ-5 with 65 GPM pump and 75 gallon tank. It shared quarters with Brush 36 (70K JPEG), a 1964 Ford which carried an 8 man crew.

Baden VFD is now part of the Prince George's County Fire Department, which reported the Jeep was severely damaged on 12 November 2008. Thanks to Robert Francis for letting me know.


"A hay baler had accidentally ignited dry hay and the fire started to quickly spread. As the brush unit approached the scene, smoke from the fire was lying close to the ground. The smoke obscured the view of the driver and a large rolled bale of hay was in the path of the unit. The brush unit, with two seat-belted firefighters on-board, struck the bale and rolled onto its side directly into the seat of the field fire. The vehicle quickly was overcome by the fire, however both firefighters escaped unharmed. The vehicle is considered a total loss."

See also a rear view photo (100K JPEG).

Thanks to Chris Jordan of Reiffton, John Hilton of Baden, and Capt. John Blauch of Chardon. Also Britt Michael, Joe Woyjeck, Bob Christy, Gary Urbanowicz, Alfred Heibert, Dale Jonas, Jarek Skonieczny and Brian Gough for spotting fire Jeeps.

Firestone plant 1929 photo is from the Herald Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library (HE box 1502.) -- Derek Redmond

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Last updated 4 March 2023 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
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