CJ-3B Fire Jeep Conversions


CJ-3Bs as early as 1953 were converted for fire service by individual fire departments. In many cases pumps and/or other equipment was added to basic Jeeps, and in some later cases aging factory fire engines had their front-mount pumps and ladder racks removed for new configurations.

Southbridge, Massachusetts Auctions 70-Year-Old Willys

Southbridge MA This 3B was still in use by the Southbridge MA Fire Department when this photo was taken by Roger Lavallee in May 2006 at the Tri-State Firemen's Muster in Webster MA.

Steve Proko told me the Jeep was one of four purchased by the town in the early 1960s. The other three were for the Parks Department, the high school athletic field and one for parts to keep the others running. The Fire Department Jeep was converted in house and later had a major restoration to the frame.

Interior Tremaine Cooper sent this photo of the interior and says, "The top racks were taken off after driving in the woods with them was found not to be a good idea (low branches). They replaced the direct drive front pump with a Honda gas pump that they could service more easily. Otherwise pretty original."

As of March 2023, the Town of Southbridge moved the Jeep out of the firehouse and sold it by online auction. See a front view and a rear view (150K JPEGs) taken at that time.

Landover Hills, Maryland

Landover Hills MD Landover Hills VFD is also known as Company 30, for their station number in Prince George's County MD. As of 2023, Company 30 operates two engines, a medic unit and an ambulance. But when this photo was taken by John Newgent Sr. circa 1958, the company had a CJ-3B brush unit as well as three American Pumper engines -- two 1950 Internationals and a 1958 International.

Landover Hills MD A parade shot of Company 30's Jeep shows that a bull bar has been added in front, and it has a water tank in the rear. A pump is not visible, but many of the Maryland brushfire Jeeps had Panama pumps under the hood.

Photos by John Newgent Sr., courtesy Royal Blue Ltd. Archives.

Former Factory Fire Engine

Orono, Maine Henry Vaughan took this photo in 1976 when this early CJ-3B was new to the Orono, Maine Fire Dept. It was originally a Jeep Fire Engine with a 300GPM Barton American front-mount pump and a tank trailer with a booster reel. It was bought new by the Bangor ME Fire Dept. who used it for fire protection at the city fairgrounds. It still shows the bump on the hood, used by Howe Fire Apparatus on their Factory Fire Engines to cover a governor controlling engine speed to the front pump.

Orono, Maine Bangor later sold the Jeep to Orono, who removed the front pump. They turned it into a brush unit by putting a gas-powered pump and water tank in the back, and found that the side compartments were perfect for backpack pumps. Henry grabbed this shot when the Jeep got into a little mud trouble in April 1979.

Cobb Island, Maryland, Brush 6

Cobb Island, Maryland Jeeps were popular as brush trucks in Maryland. This 1961 CJ-3B served the 5th District VFD and the later Cobb Island VFD for decades, and was photographed here at the Southern Maryland Firemen's Association Parade on 6 May 2007.

Cobb Island is a small island located at the confluence of the Potomac and Wicomico rivers, south of Washington DC (see a regional map, 320K JPEG).

Cobb Island postcard Cobb Island is seen here on a pre-WWII Tichnor Brothers postcard from the Boston Public Library. As of 2010 the island has a population of 1,166, and has several popular marinas and restaurants.

Tanker 6, Brush 6 An undated photo of Tanker 6 and Brush 6. It's appropriate that the apparatus is radio equipped; one of Cobb Island's claims to fame is that on 23 December 1900, Reginald Fessenden sent and received the first intelligible speech by electromagnetic waves, on a pair of masts 50 feet high and 1 mile apart on the island, using a spark transmitter. (Wikipedia)

See also an undated grayscale photo (60K JPEG) of Brush 6 with Brush 64, a Dodge Power Wagon.

More Examples

Firefighters It appears the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources extended the front bumper to install a Briggs & Stratton-powered pump, with a booster reel in back and probably a small water tank below. It's seen in action here at Fall River, Wisconsin. No other details.

PennsylvaniaThis 1953 Willys was the original brush Jeep at West Bradford Fire Company in Pennsylvania, who now have a very slick CJ-7 designated Brush 39.

Jim Fairweather of West Bradford says, "I believe that the 3B was purchased from Herb Wiley (20K JPEG) here in West Chester. That's the same Wiley Bros. & Lewis mentioned in From Broadway to Halfmoon Valley Road on CJ3B.info. My Grandfather bought a '48 Willys PU there as well."

Montgomery County PA Spring Mill Fire Company No. 1 is in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. They had a sixties CJ-3B (note the covered air vent in the cowl) apparently as a runabout and snowplow Jeep. The impressive bell on the front, and the presence of Chief Paul "Sarge" Smith suggests it was also used as a Chief's car.

Photo courtesy Frank Boyd and the Montgomery County Apparatus group on Facebook.

Photo by David FetherstonStill in service and looking very functional when it was featured in Jp magazine in 1999, this 1964 CJ-3B was a grassfire rig in Austintown, Ohio. It had a 100-gallon water tank, with 10x15 wheels to carry the weight and a Panama pump under the hood to provide the pressure.

Thanks to David Fetherston and Jp for the photo.

Shelby, Ohio, Brush 6 Sold

Shelby, Ohio In June 2017 this CJ-3B had just retired and was sold by auction. The announcement stated, "The Shelby Fire Department is selling a 1963 Willys model CJ-3B Jeep that was used as a grass truck from May 24, 1963 to April 14, 2017. The vehicle has only been owned by the City of Shelby and has 9,666 orginal miles. The tailgate was removed when new and put in storage. It has been reinstalled and is in near mint condition."

Shelby pickup The Jeep was replaced by a new pickup truck which became Brush 36. Fire Chief Mike Thompson commented to the local newspaper, "The 1963 Jeep did not meet modern safety standards, and it was time we parted ways. It has served the city well, but there wasn't a top for it and no heat, so in the winter it just sat. By having a pickup truck there are more things we can do with it, and it gives us a little more bang for our buck."

The auction was won by Richard Kimball of Ohio, whose Forward Control Pumper is featured on CJ3B.info.

Nova ScotiaThis is a unique conversion, done either by an apparatus builder or a very ambitious volunteer fire company. We don't know its origins, but it was donated to Blandford Area Fire Rescue in Nova Scotia, Canada, by nearby Hubbards Fire Department, when BAFR was established in 1965.

The 1956 CJ-3B had a 200-gallon water tank, and Hubbards also donated a surplus 1947 Ford oil truck to serve as a water tanker. The Blandford department answered a total of eight alarms their first year, all of which were fires.

St. Clair, MissouriHere's an historic photo of a nicely-appointed fire Jeep back in its glory days. This 1954 CJ-3B, serial number 454GB2 14209, was originally purchased by the St. Clair, Missouri Volunteer Fire Department. It was converted by Central Fire Truck Corporation of St. Louis, who added standard fire hydrant connections, a PTO-driven pump, 100-gallon tank and a front-mounted winch. The total cost was $3,400.

The Jeep is now used on Kenny Jahnsen's farm in Grubville, Missouri, and no longer has the fire equipment. The PTO now runs a rear winch. Thanks to Dale Bruns for the photo.

Dennison FDThis CJ-3B belonging to the fire department in Dennison, Ohio, was taken out of service with only 6,519 miles on the odometer. It formerly belonged to the nearby city of Uhrichsville, but was sold to Dennison for $1 as a brush fire vehicle.

Shawn Nelson, who drove this Jeep for Dennison at one time, says he thinks it was a 1953 model. "The real bad thing was it sat outside all year long uncovered. It did have a half rag top on it which rotted away, and then it was left to the elements. The truck was restored from the ground up in I think 1987 by Buckeye Joint Vocational School but being left outside all those years didn't do it much good."

Dennison pumpHere's a closer look at the large front pump platform. After these photos were taken by Bob Christy, the Jeep was sold by the Department and later dismantled.

Ripley, OhioThe Jeepin' Wests in Pennsylvania added this CJ-3B fire engine to their Jeep collection. Melanie West says the Jeep was formerly in service in Ripley, Ohio.

Jim Allen pointed out in his article "How to Restore Your Jeep" in the June/July 1998 issue of Jp magazine, that because fire Jeeps can't be used for much other than display, they are not generally as attractive to collectors as they might be. But the Wests have used this one for hosing the mud off Jeeps at off-road events.

Batavia OHHave you been looking for a CJ-3B fire engine? Don't give up hope -- Rob Ridener of Bethel, Ohio found this one in a barn, along with two other Jeeps. The 1964 CJ-3B was purchased new by the Batavia Township FD because they liked their 1947 CJ-2A so much, but eventually sold at auction.

From the two hose reels and the front mounted winch (330K JPEG) it's clear this was a brush rig, but it doesn't appear to be set up to carry any gear like shovels or backpacks. The pump is mounted between the seats, running off the PTO.

Thanks to Karen Corrigan of the Seward VFD, Dale Jonas, Bob Christy, Tremaine Cooper, Adriaan Kriek, Brian Gough and Federico Cavedo. -- Derek Redmond

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Last updated 4 July 2023 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond