The First Civilian Fire Jeep

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The Agri Jeep prototypes were built in 1944.  Only one of the understude 40 CJ2's built was the American Marsh modified Agri Jeep to fire apparatus. There are only five known Agri Jeeps known to exist out of the 40 built.

Fire Jeep Front view Willys was experimenting with the name and fisrt put a brass plaque that said JEEP.  Another distinctive feature found on the AgriJeeps was the spare tire mounted on the passenger side between the door and rear fender.  The American Marsh fire apparatus has it's spare above the rear hose bed to make room for the hard suction hose. The strainer for the suction hose is stowed between the seats. You can also see a couple of carbon tetrachloride extinguishers. A shovel and axe are mounted on the passenger side was engineered by American Marsh, although the CJ-2 had tool indents in the driver's side of the body. Perhaps there were two sets of tools but we don't know becasuse we can't see the other side of the jeep in the pictures. The front-mounted pump is a Barton U-40 model, which was also the basis of the later factory CJ-2A Fire Fighter Jeep.

Rear view Two very cool spotlights and a pike pole  are mounted on the ladder rack, and other equipment visible are two hand held spotlights a prybar below the pintle hook and two hose nozzles along with a full load of hose. There were extra panels mounted on the quarter panels that the CJ2's do not have. 

Enjine Enjine
Thank you Rodger Birchfield for finding these photos and allowing me to use them on my site and Rodger's photos also appear in Roger's article "Jeep Fire Apparatus" in issue 2000-2 of "Enjine Enjine", the magazine of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America.

Jeep Fire Apparatus

By Rodger Birchfield

One of the most interesting vehicles to show up on automobile showroom floors in the latter part of the 1940's was the Willys Jeep - the same rugged little workhorse that had plied across Europe and the Far East during the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of jeeps were turned out for the military by Willys-Overland and Ford. After the war, Willys offered a civilian version of this legendary little vehicle to the general public. The civilian jeep was an instant hit, and continues to be a sought-after vehicle to this day. During the postwar era Willys developed a network of dealerships, but they did not have the glamour the larger automobile companies offered. During the late 1940's and throughout the 1950's people flocked to auto dealerships each fall to see the latest models.

During the war, Willys-Overland Motors also furnished the military with a compact fire engine utilizing the nimble and versatile jeep chassis as its platform. A number of these little firefighters were assembled by American-Marsh Fire Apparatus in Battle Creek, Michigan utilizing Barton front-mounted pumps.

On January 10, 1947 (military date) the Boyer Fire Equipment Company of Logansport, Indiana received a letter addressed to S.O. Cook from George Harold Bell, Sales Manager for Willys-Overland. The letter contained the following:
"Gentlemen, We have been requested by our Toledo, Ohio distributor, Hoppe and Worman Inc. to enter their order for fifty (50) Willys Jeep fire truck Conversions. This letter is your authority to make the necessary material commitments to complete these conversions. Willys-Overland production of the 50 jeeps for these conversions will be scheduled to follow production of jeeps covering the orders which you now have on hand".

The majority of the Jeeps converted by Bayer were sold through Willys dealerships throughout the country, Imagine walking into a jeep showroom and finding a bright red fire engine displayed along with the standard jeeps, jeep station wagons and panel trucks. Willys also manufactured a nifty line of passenger cars in the 1950's.

The folds a Boyer were also advised by letter that jeep fire engines were being built by the Howe Fire Apparatus Co. of Anderson, Indiana, it is not known if jeep continued to have American-Marsh and other fire apparatus manufacturers convert jeeps into fire engines. These nimble, go-anywhere firefighters were the forerunners to the mini-pumper which came along later.

Not only did Boyer and Howe convert CJ-2A jeeps, but Howe delivered a fire engine based on an open-cab jeep pickup truck using a 500 gallon-per-minute Barton front-mount pump. The difference between the wartime American-Marsh and Boyer-Willys jeep fire engines was the placement of their hard suction hose. American-Marsh draped the hose down the sides of the apparatus. Boer installed an overhead rack to carry the suction hose and a ground ladder. One Boyer-Willys Jeep was sold to Midwest Fire and Safety of Indianapolis, Ind. It is believed this was the Jeep with Barton U-40 pump that was used for in-house fire protection at the huge Indianapolis Western Electric plant. When Western electric closed the Indianapolis plant. Company sources reported the little fire engine, Complete with booster tank trailer, Went to a company campground in Virginia or West Virginia.

Trailer? Yes, Boyer and Howe built trailers to tow behind their Jeep fire engines. Sales brochures boasted that the Jeep fire engine could pump from hydrants, draft form ponds and streams of provide it own water supply form a tank-trailer. A former Veedersburg, Ind. volunteer fire fighter said his department had a Jeep with a tank trailer. He recalled driving over a log on the way to a brush fire years ago. The Jeep clambered over the log al right, but the trailer tipped over on its side and its precious water cargo spilled out. With the assistance of a fellow firefighter, the trailer was up righted. More water was pumped into the tank and the firefighter proceeded to fight the fire. After many years of service the Jeep and trailer were sold to a local farmer.

The exact number of Boyer-Jeep fire engines shipped out of Logansport in not known. One count of deliveries numbers more than 200. Fifty of more were also built of export.



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