The John Bean Division of FMC Corporation in Lansing, Michigan built Forward Control Fire Engines. Some unusual custom units delivered to the Chicago Fire Department were featured in an article in Automobile magazine in February 1999. Seen here is Unit 914, equipped with a generator and two banks of floodlights for illuminating fire scenes. The Chicago firehouse that quartered several of these rigs was nicknamed "Disneyland."
Jeep Pressure No. 1 was a 1959 Willys with a deluge gun behind the cab. The little truck could drive closer to a fire than a larger truck could, laying the hose from a pumper. Photo from the Ken Buchanan collection. See also an archival left side photo (50K JPEG) and Pressure No. 1 being shown off at a Fire Department display (120K JPEG).
Jeep Pressure No. 1 was later renamed Deluge Unit 671, with no apparent upgrades other than a new red and black paint job. It was photographed by Dick Adelman in April, 1975.
This photo of 671 in action is courtesy ChicagoFD.org. Robert Quinn, fire chief from 1957 to 1978, is credited with promoting the strategy of increased use of master streams from outside a building, to reduce the need for firefighters to enter dangerous involved structures.
The monitor stream strategy led to the development of larger pressure wagons capable of hitting fires higher up in large buildings. Unit 673, "Big John," had a deluge gun designed for a fireboat, mounted on a 6x6 chassis with hydraulic lifts. See a rear view photo (70K JPEG) by Ray Plum, of Big John in action.
Big John's litle brother was Unit 674, built on a 1961 FC-150 chassis, and known as "Little John." Jack Calderone, editor of Fire Apparatus Journal, supplied this photo and says Little John's rear deck and body were fabricated in the CFD shops.
Little John could direct two high-volume master streams, supplied by multiple pumpers, at large fires. It's seen here doing that job, in a photo from ChicagoFD.org.
The next step was "Big Mo," with a pair of the fireboat turret nozzles (70K JPEG) and a double manifold (70K JPEG) with 32 inlets capable of supplying 8000 gallons per minute. The theory was to create large water streams quickly with minimal manpower, although the hard part was supplying enough water.
This massive gun was initially installed on the 1962 Jeep seen here, with large tires and stabilization jacks added. Thanks to ChicagoFD.org for these rare photos.
At one fire, Big Mo was reportedly able to hit the 17th floor with a 1700gpm stream peaking at 230 feet. The shot of Big Mo in action here comes from a Chicago FD film available on YouTube.
See also a front view (90K JPEG) and a great shot of the gun being tested at Navy Pier (70K JPEG) courtesy of ChicagoFD.org.
The weight and force of that much water proved to be more than the Jeep could safely handle, and Big Mo was moved to a 6x6 chassis and painted Civil Defense blue. See also a rear view (80K JPEG) of the new Big Mo in action (photo courtesy Steve Redick.)
Ken Buchanan provided this photo of Chicago's Smoke Ejector No. 1. He says, "This 1961 Willys Jeep carried portable smoke ejector fans, plus a large one permanently mounted on the rig, which used canvas tubes to vent the smoke (like a big vacuum cleaner.) Note the green flasher light on the upper passenger side of the box. All Chicago FD rigs have the marine-style red to port, green to starboard lighting."
Thanks to Gary Urbanowicz, Ken Buchanan, Jack Calderone and ChicagoFD.org. -- Derek Redmond
See more Jeep FC Fire Engines.
Also on The CJ3B Page, see a Chicago Fire Department 1946 Jeep and a CJ-3B Crash Truck at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
Return to Fire Service Jeeps.
CJ3B Home | Site Map | Updates | Search | Links | Bulletin Board