Perhaps the most common of the Jeep fire engines was the CJ-2A conversion done from 1946-49 for Willys-Overland by various manufacturers, particularly Howe Fire Apparatus of Anderson, Indiana. Many survive in private collections, museums, and even still in service.
This pretty original CJ-2A is used by the Aqua Jesters clown club, who have been entertaining crowds in Minneapolis since 1946. Darlyne Erickson of the Aqua Jesters told us, "The story goes that a few of the guys drove to wherever these Jeeps were made and picked it up new and drove it back to Minneapolis. It's only used in the summer in parades and stored throughout the winter. It's been repainted and actually runs great... almost. The other day it died on us, and hopefully we'll get it up and running soon."
One of the earliest Howe Jeeps is this column-shift 1945 CJ-2A owned by Art and Darlene Gloss in Missouri since 1988, and photographed by Bob Christy in 2014. The Jeep was originally sold to a lumber company near Sandpoint, Idaho, and later joined the Sandpoint Fire Department, where it racked up a little over 2,000 miiles.
A restored 1948 Howe conversion with Barton single stage 500 GPM pump is on display at the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting in Phoenix, Arizona. It was apparently originally purchased by a private farm in Wisconsin.
This Jeep has been listed for sale a couple of times in recent years, described variously as a 1947 or 1949 CJ-2A. It was reportedly used at a stockyard in Missouri, and later driven in parades to promote Kovac's Hometown Foods in St. Joseph MO.
Interestingly the Howe Fire Apparatus Jeep Production List shows a CJ-2A with Howe serial number 7932 sold to the St. Joseph Stockyards, but lists it as a 1946.
The Jeep still has the Barton pump and some of the other equipment, although the hose is gone, as is the equipment basket above the hose bed. In 1949, this Howe 2A complete with all equipment would have cost about $4300.
The cab of the Jeep Fire Engine was pretty spartan -- the pump controls were on the front grille. Howe took delivery of the Jeeps from Willys with the optional passenger seat, as well as heavy duty springs and radiator, and an engine speed governor.
There is a Howe builder's plate on the dash of this 2A, but the serial number is not visible.
Here's a beauty of a CJ-2A, still in active service as of 2002. Brushfire Unit 4726 is a 1947 Jeep belonging to the Mumford Fire Department in New York state. It has a 350 GPM front pump and 110-gallon tank, and the MFD describes its mission as "grass fires/inaccessible areas/water supply."
A well-worn but basically complete CJ-2A (apparently "Old No.1" of some department) is squeezed in with the collection of fire engines at Willys America in California. See a rear view photo (70K JPEG) also by Bill Brennan.
Willys CJ-2A serial number 1161701 belongs to Tremaine Cooper, who says, "It was used at a hunting and fishing club in Pennsylvania from new until 2002. It has 2,300 miles and original (faded) paint. All the fire gear including all nozzles, both ladders etc. are still with the vehicle. The '48 inspection sticker is even still on the windshield."
Thanks to Gordon Church, Bill Brennan, Bill Wheeler, Tremaine Cooper and Dale Jonas. -- Derek Redmond
See also Boyer CJ-2A Fire Engines.
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