A Proud Heritage
When you're in the special-interest car business, you hear all matter of tales. Some are believable, others are obvious hoaxes, and as for the rest, well, they require a little pondering and further investigation.
The story of the Jeep and its conversion from a weapon of war to a vehicle of peace is well known and memorable. It could be said that if there is one vehicle that saved more lives in the 20th century, the Jeep could rise high and mighty to that charge.
Today, most new Jeeps are domestic pleasure craft, some are adventure-trekking machines, but then there are others that are quietly waiting to be called into battle. These are the Fire Jeeps. One of the things that spiked our interest in these vehicles is the claim that over 3,000 Fire Jeeps are still used by fire departments around the nation. It seems that nothing has been able to replace the rugged versatility of the Jeep. All are either '50s', '60s' or early-'70s' models.
This '64 CJ3B model belongs to the Austintown, Ohio, Fire Department and is kept at the No. 4 station. It's one of the three Fire Jeeps seen at fire stations that are within a 10-mile radius of each other.?>
The CJ3B is not the prettiest Jeep ever built but it's surely one of the most functional. Introduced in late 1953, the CJ3B features a taller grille and a deep hood to accommodate the 72hp, F-headed "Hurricane" four-cylinder engine. Surprisingly, this Jeep, which was mostly used commercially, remained in production until 1968.
This '64 model has been a Fire Jeep for most of its life. Originally based at another Austintown Fire Station, it was built up as a grass-fire unit, with a 100-gallon water tank mounted in the rear tray, two hand-operated backpack water extinguishers, and a pair of 200-foot fire hoses with brass spray nozzles. A 3/4-inch Panama Fan Drive BB pump supplies pressure to the hose.
The Panama Pump Company builds all kinds of fire-fighter hardware and forestry production equipment in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The Station No. 4 Jeep sits on a standard 80-inch wheelbase, with a PTO cable winch up front hidden behind a custom heavy-duty steel bumper and pushbar. At the rear is a personnel platform with five chrome cannistered-soda fire extinguishers mounted to its base. The rear tray is surrounded by a hand-hold rail and protection frame. The Jeep also features triple flashing lights and a huge hood-mounted cast-aluminum siren. The interior features a vacuum wiper, switches and pull levers for the winch, a pump, a radio, flashing lights, and a siren.
With its fire accessories and a full 100-gallon water tank, this CJ3B weighs approximately 3,250 pounds. To help carry the load, the Jeep has been fitted with 10x15 wheels capped with Firestone all-terrain tires.
This CJ3B doesn't see a lot of action at the station, but it's kept in ready-to-roll mode for any fire emergency. With its winch, pump, and handheld appliances, it's a sure-fire machine to douse flames that can only be reached by a small and able fire-fighting machine like the CJ3B.