Fire Jeeps Scramble in New Jersey


There are many fire companies with Jeeps in service for brush fire suppression, but there aren't a lot of places where you will still find Jeeps filling a regular role in fighting structural fires. The oceanside boardwalk area of Wildwood, near the southern tip of New Jersey, was one of those places until recently. These Jeeps are now retired.

Willys CJ-5

1982Wildwood City Fire is a combined career/volunteer organization which protects a community with 5,200 permanent residents and some 250,000 visitors every summer. Jeeps have long provided a way for the Department to get firefighters and equipment onto the narrow streets and wooden boardwalk of the picturesque beach area. In particular, deck guns are essential when fire strikes any of the bigger buildings such as oceanfront hotels.

CJ-5An important piece of apparatus in Wildwood for many years was a 1956 Willys CJ-5 used by the lifeguards of the Wildwood Beach Patrol until 1975, when it was converted with a 250 GPM front-mount pump (right) by the Volunteer Fire Company. It's seen above in action in 1982 at Boardwalk and Lincoln Avenue.

See also a right side photo (60K JPEG) showing the gas-powered pump under a weatherproof cover.

FiresideA photo of the Willys at the scene of a summertime blaze at the aptly named Fireside Restaurant is one of many shots of the WFD and NWFD in action taken over the years by Edward Snyder of Cape Pics.


CJ-7 and CJ-8Wildwood's Willys was replaced in 1996 by CJ-8 Scrambler designated F-396, on the right in this photo taken at an overnight fire at the Seaville Hotel at Maple and Ocean Avenue.

On the left is a CJ-5 belonging to North Wildwood Fire Dept. laying two master streams onto the involved structure. See also a front view photo of the CJ-5 (60K JPEG) which North Wildwood retired in 2004.

F-396F-396 is seen here in action at Cedar and the Boardwalk. This fire had been set by two children in a four-storey sprinklered building that was shut down for the winter. Some eight fire companies took six hours to bring it under control, and two days to put it out completely.

395 and 396This photo was taken at the scene the next day. As F-396 hoses down the rubble, Wildwood City's second Scrambler continues to stand by. F-395 carries a large generator and four 1000-watt lights which had been used overnight. That Jeep also came to the Fire Department from the Wildwood Beach Patrol who used it as a beach rescue vehicle.

395 and 396 In another photo, a television news crew covers the aftermath of the blaze, with a front view of the two Jeeps making a good backdrop for the interview.

Fires such as this prompted a 2004 Federal Emergency Management Agency report which expressed concern with "the seasonality of the businesses there and the fact many of them remain closed during the off-season. This gives the local fire department only a limited window during which they can inspect and discover code violations." The report commended Wildwood for their aggressive fire code inspection program, and specifically mentioned the Jeeps: "Two vehicles, modified because of previous fires and difficulty with access, also helped in suppression efforts."

ScramblerF-396 was completely refurbished by members of the Wildwood Volunteer Fire Company shortly after replacing the retiring 1956 Willys, and given this new paint scheme.

Scrambler The rear was set up to lay hose and be supplied by pumpers located at a distance from the fire. See also a front view (80K JPEG).

The Scramblers also made excellent parade vehicles; check out this picture from Wildwood's Santa Claus parade (36K JPEG).

Utility 3-3F-396 was later re-designated Utility 3-3, and was eventually taken out of service and sold by Wildwood. Thanks to Jim Noble for this photo of the Scrambler being shown off.

Thanks also to Greg Neill and Matthew Woolston of Wildwood Fire, and Edward Snyder. -- Derek Redmond

Return to Fire Service Jeeps on CJ3B.info.

FacebookVisit CJ3B.info on Facebook.

CJ3B Home | Contents | Search | Links | 3A and 3B Community

Last updated 8 January 2008 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond