Jeep Gladiator Fire Trucks


There aren't a lot of J-series Jeep fire engine conversions around, but the ones you do run across sure are interesting.

Kaiser Jeep No. 2

Factory fire truckIn 1964 the Kaiser Jeep factory in Toledo was already served by a CJ-3B fire engine (50K JPEG) which was small and light enough to fit into restricted areas of the plant including some elevators. This 1964 Gladiator (note the "No.2" on the door) was put into service mainly to protect the large dump area located across the street. Exactly where and when the rear body was built is unknown.

This photo shows the truck outside its station on the edge of the Jeep plant, with what appears to be training facilities for the factory fire department in the background.

See also a left side factory photo (30K JPEG).

Camp JeepTruck No. 2 was retired when the nearby expressway was built and the dump was removed. Ron Szymanski, curator of the former Jeep House museum, saved the truck from the crusher, and it became the first vehicle in the Jeep House collection. It has been displayed at Chrysler's Camp Jeep (photo by Jim Allen, left) but its fate since the closing of the museum is unknown.

Gladiator left The J-series truck, with center-mounted pump, is powered by a 230 OHC 6-cylinder engine, and the odometer shows about 3,000 miles, which according to Ron actually includes "mileage" accumulated by the PTO-powered pump running, as a way of recording hours of pump use.

Gladiator rear See more photos taken in the old Jeep House museum's crowded storage area: pump controls and cab interior and right side of the cab (50K JPEGs).

The rear compartment at this time still contained smoke-ejection fans.

Walled Lake No. 2

Michigan GladiatorThe truck in the photo at right (taken in front of the Willys-Overland Administration Building in Toledo) is identified in Jeep: The Unstoppable Legend (Arch Brown, 1994) as a paramedic truck. It did have lots of equipment storage and carried a resuscitator, but was actually a mini-pumper with dual rear wheels and a number of features designed specifically for brushfire use, including the massive front brush guard, pump controls in the cab, and bumper-mounted nozzles.

The bumper-mount nozzles are clearly visible in the larger copy of the photo (100K JPEG). It's also nice to see somebody make some real use of those two round cutouts between the headlights and the grille, filled here with red warning lights.

It was designed by Jerry Formaz, who in the 1960s worked at a large Jeep dealership eyeing a possible deal with the Detroit Fire Department. Jerry's son Bob Formaz told CJ3B.info, "This rig was built on the dealership owner's faith that my dad had the right idea and that, of course, he could actually sell at least the one that they had built. There were howls of protest from the likes of Howe and Bean (not to mention Seagrave and Pierce that the dealership repped.) The time of the mini-pumper had just begun and there was money to be made."

The City Of Walled Lake, Michigan purchased this unique truck and used it for many years as No.2, stating it could handle "99 percent of the department's calls."

See more photos and Jerry's complete story of the development of The Little Engine That Could.

Howe Conversions

Front mount pumpThis 1960s Gladiator converted by Howe is in their traditional Jeep configuration, with a front-mounted pump. The details and the fate of this one are unknown. For a couple of other examples, see 1963 Howe Gladiator Fire Truck.

More Gladiators

Thibault P.T. Chief
Pierre Thibault Ltd. of Pierreville, Quebec advertised their "P.T. Chief" mini-pumper, built on a pre-1970 long-wheelbase Gladiator chassis. Jerry Formaz sent this photo from their 1972 catalogue, which states "Standard and optional equipment shown. Also available with front mounted pump." I haven't seen an example of this unit in service.

USAF The U.S. Air Force used J-series trucks as crash tenders. I don't know the source, location or date of this photo of a J-20 which appears to be equipped with an Ansul dry chemical system. See more Gladiator crash trucks in Airfield Crash Rescue Jeeps on CJ3B.info.

J-10David Fetherston's classic photo book Jeep: Warhorse, Workhorse & Boulevard Cruiser includes this nice shot of a 1986 J-10 Townside pickup used as an air cascade truck by the Hopatcong Fire Department in New Jersey, as well as a photo of their Comanche pickup support truck.

Great Britain

StaffordshireBill Munro's book Jeep: From Bantam to Wrangler (see the CJ-3B Bookshelf) tells the story of some late 1970's 6x4 J-20 trucks (100K JPEG) originally built by AMC for Iran, but eventually purchased and converted by the East Sussex Fire Brigade in Britain.

Apparently they were successful, and this 1984 truck is another of those 6-wheel conversions, used by the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service as a heavy rescue unit for traffic accidents and other rescue work. See also a side view (40K JPEG).

StaffordshireThis 1989 photo of a lower-profile Staffordshire truck described as a Light Rescue Tender was posted to fire-engine-photos.com by Yelp Bullhorn. He reported that the bodywork was by John Dennis Coachbuilders, and that, "Moments after this photo was taken, she responded to an RTA on the M6 with only her sirens working, and with NO flashing lights. And the reason for this? Kids! Apparently the blue-light switch wasn't kid-proof back then! "

See also a 2009 photo (70K JPEG) by current owner Adrian Hyde, who commented: "The engine and running gear are perfect, and considering size and weight, very fast and and stops on a sixpence. I've had the vehicle for four years now and it is in very good condition. I have not modified her in any way."

East SussexPete Matten added this photo which is apparently one of a second batch of rescue tenders bought by East Sussex Fire Brigade, in 1983-84, from Angloco. Rick Loudon commented that he believed this truck was later used for spare parts for three other Jeeps in East Sussex, and it had a 5.3 litre V8 petrol engine.

East SussexAdam Floyd posted his photo of another East Sussex Jeep. He says it is a Scothorn 6x4 conversion with Angloco bodywork. He mentioned it is now privately owned, and the picture was taken at a rally in Bloxham, Oxfordshire, in June 2002.

Thanks to fire-engine-photos.com and the contributors.


J3000Mikel Ezcurra spotted this unusual 1969 J-3000 Gladiator conversion for sale on the web, in Switzerland. It's not surprising that the Swiss would build the same kind of deluxe enclosed equipment and personnel transporters on the Kaiser J-series platform, as they did on the Willys truck and Forward Control chassis.

See a right side view (50K JPEG). See also the dashboard, the crew compartment, the side equipment doors open, and the rear doors open (50K JPEGs).


1978Jan Scheele took this parade photo of a 1978 AMC J-20 brannbil ("fire engine") still in service in Osterøy, Norway as of 2010. The builder was O.C. Axelsens Fabrikker a/s Flekkefjord, and the truck is equipped with a Ziegler pump and 500-liter tank.

Over-EikerJan recognized this similar J-20 with front-mounted pump and enclosed hose bed as being from Over-Eiker, Norway. Aleksander Andersen spotted this photo when the 1981 Jeep was sold in 2010, with 37,000 km on the odometer. See also the rear view, the cab interior, and the side compartments (70K JPEGs).

Victoria, Australia

1966 Gladiator The Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria, Australia used Willys Jeep tankers starting in 1956, to fight bushfires across a huge area of Australia. Keith Pakenham of the CFA told CJ3B.info that the CFA also had 15 Gladiator-based tankers built in 1966. Equipped with 45A Briggs & Stratton pumps and 280-gallon tanks, they were in use until 1984 when the last one was sold off.


Vaughn Becker provided this photo captioned "Gladiator J-3700 Fire Fighting Unit, list price chassis and cab: $3948. Pump driven either by PTO or separate motor." This photo and a similar DRW J-3800 for $4248 (70K JPEG) courtesy of Mick Broomfield, show that the configuration was very similar to the earlier Willys Jeep tankers -- basically just a flatbed platform with pump and tank.

1982 Gladiator An updated prototype based on the new J-series truck was later tested by the CFA as a replacement, but apparently did not result in further orders. The truck was still referred to as a 1.4 tanker, meaning 1000 liter capacity and 4-wheel drive. This CFA photo archived by the Keysborough Fire Brigade shows testing of the prototype in 1982.

1982 Gladiator Keith Packenham also found this photo showing the Type 1.4 prototype at Halls Gap, Victoria during testing. As of 2018 this truck belongs to Tim Kennedy in Melbourne, but it no longer has the tank on the rear.

South Australia

The J-trucks were more widely adopted by the Country Fire Service in South Australia, with apparatus bodies built by local firms. At least 27 Jeeps are listed in the archives of the Country Fire Service Promotions Unit.

J-3800 Willys advertised this "J-3800 Fire Fighting Unit, dual rear wheels, self-contained tanker with optional power take off or industrial engine driven pump, $6848." It's not clear where the apparatus body for this unit was built. Photo courtesy Vaughn Becker.

Lenswood & Forest Range Lenswood & Forest Range station of the CFS received this DRW J-2000 in 1968, and had it in service until 1985. The body built by Tosold Motors was very similar to the configuration of the truck above. It had a 1,360 liter tank and a pump powered by a Briggs & Stratton 16hp engine. Photo by Tony Welbourn.

Myponga Myponga is on the coast just south of Adelaide. Their Unit 64 was an almost identical 1968 J-3000, also built by Tosold Motors, who were apparently located in Naracoorte near the Victoria border, about halfway from Adelaide to Melbourne. Photo by Steve Schueler.

Elliston This Elliston District J-3000 was a slightly later build by Tosold. It was in service from 1970 to 1988. Although the rear body enclosure was larger, the 1200-liter tank was slightly smaller than the units above. Photo from the CFS Promotions Unit collection.

Morphett Vale South Australian stations continued to put Gladiators in the field in the 1980s. The apparatus design and equipment was more advanced, although they were still using portable pumps, unlike the J-20s being built at the time by Mills-Tui in New Zealand. Morphett Vale's 1985 J-20 was built by Carey Gully Engineering (80K JPEG) just outside Adelaide. Another firm manufacturing apparatus in the Adelaide suburbs was A.J. Stock in Holden Hill.

J-20 Morphett Vale 14 initially had call sign 66, but was reassigned as 14 in 1990. It had twin booster reels, carried 900 liters of water, and the Darley pump was powered by a Briggs & Stratton 694cc engine. The truck was in service until 1999. Morphett Vale photos by Steven Schueler.

Thanks to all the contributors. -- Derek Redmond

See J-20 Fire Trucks in New Zealand and two examples of a 1963 Howe Gladiator Fire Truck.

See also a J-series pickup used as a fire truck by the National Park Service in New York, and a Wagoneer rescue truck in Vietnam.

Kaiser M715 Fire Trucks are a frequent conversion of the Gladiator's military cousin.

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Last updated 1 February 2020 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond