Jeep FC-170 Fire Truck at General Atomics Corp.


2023 This 1962 FC-170 from an unknown builder was delivered to General Atomics in San Diego CA, where it reportedly served into the 1980s. It subsequently went to Aspendell Fire Company in Bishop CA, and in 2007 to the nearby Rainbow Pack Outfitters. It was offered for sale online in 2023, with 6,450 miles on the odometer.

I would love to find out where this truck was originally built.

General Atomics, 1962 The Jeep was delivered to General Atomics in white, with a 300-gallon water tank and some extra equipment storage on top. Other than the paint, and the addition of a ladder rack, not a great deal has changed on the truck in the six decades since. The 1962 photo is from the collection of Kurt Bidinger .

San Diego, 1967 General Atomics (GA) had been founded in 1955 as part of General Dynamics Corp., to develop nuclear reactors. Its dedicated facility in the Torrey Pines area of San Diego was opened in 1959, and this 1967 photo of the massive headquarters is courtesy of the San Diego Archives.

1962 Fleet Surprisingly the Jeep appears to have been the most substantial piece of apparatus in the fleet protecting the large GA campus. The Ford pickup and vans were probably carrying specialized equipment and supplies, while the Jeep and the brand new Scout were likely chosen partly for their ability to navigate the rugged terrain. Presumably GA was largely relying on the San Diego Fire Department for structure protection.

1962 Fleet The photos suggest the pickup was weighed down with a pretty heavy load of gear and/or liquids, while the Jeep was comfortable with its 300-gallon tank, even without the dual rear wheels that some FC fire trucks wore. A screen was screwed to the front of its radiator guard, possibly for dust protection.

General Atomics, 1962 The pump controls were pretty simple, and with a booster reel inside one compartment there wasn't room for much else here besides a couple of Air Paks. GA had apparently asked for the additional storage locker on top.

San Diego, 1967 The coiled hose basket on the other side also looked like an add-on, but other photos show that this truck was not the only one with this feature. And both sides of the truck carried the 200-foot booster reels.

General Atomics, 1962 A photo of a training exercise appears to show GA firefighters putting both booster lines to work.

Rear, 1962 The rear view shows two more pre-connected hoses, plus Ansul dry chemical and carbon dioxide extinguishers. It also shows similarities to fire truck bodies built by Marion Body Works in Wisconsin (see a Marion mini-pumper, 70K JPEG). Thanks to Mark A. Redman for suggesting Marion.

2023 A 2023 photo reveals that the extinguishers are gone from what has now become a brushfire truck. Added on top is a tube for storing suction hose, a spare tire, and surprisingly a ladder rack.

2023 When the Jeep was repainted in fluorescent green, the interior of the compartments remained white. And the Aspendell Fire Company apparently decided to make the simple pump controls even simpler by labelling them with some easy to understand instructions.

2023 Kurt Bidinger has a couple of photos that show a similar FC-170 from the same company. Among various slightly different details, the even more limited pump controls make it obvious that this is not the same truck.

2023 I would be tempted to say these two pictures were factory photos, except that the gear in the compartments and the landscape in the background of this shot suggest that it was also taken at the General Atomics facility in San Diego.

So it appears that the corporation purchased a couple of these trucks. I would be very interested in finding out who the manufacturer was. Possibly Marion Body Works?

Thanks to Kurt Bidinger for the General Atomics photos. -- Derek Redmond

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Last updated 2 January 2024 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
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