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Army documents discussing their fire trucks and fire apparatus appear, after a decade of research, to be non-existent. The only document located in that time was issued in 1946 and will be discussed later in this page. The first located reference to the Army using fire trucks appears on page 406 of Chapter 14 (Fire Trucks) of Fred Crismon's excellent book "U.S. Military Wheeled Vehicles - Crestline Publishing, 1983. Mr. Crismon says, in part, "A wide variety of pumpers and chemical trucks were employed at military posts in the 1910 - 1930 period- - - -". It is known the Quartermaster Corps was the Army's designer, procurer and supplier of vehicles of all sorts from an unknown starting date to shortly after Pearl Harbor when this function was spread among several Army Corps. As discussed in the History page, responsibility for Army fire fighting was transferred from the Quartermaster Corps to the Corps of Engineers on December 4, 1941, three days before Pearl Harbor.

To carry out it's newly received mission, in the United States and particularly around the world, the Corps of Engineers found itself with fire trucks designed for use on surfaced roads and supported by large and reliable water main and fire hydrant systems in the Posts, Camps and Stations of the United States. Also, it found fire apparatus in procurement and some apparatus in the design phase by Quartermaster Corps designers transferred to the Corps of Engineers. So, it was this equipment that went overseas with the early Engineer Fire Fighting Platoons.

The Army's fire truck and fire apparatus inventory contained a wide variety of makes, sizes and functions, many of them of civilian manufacture. What will be discussed here are the fire trucks and fire apparatus specified in the Table of Equipment for Engineer Fire Fighting Platoons. Some of this equipment is discussed in the following Army Service Forces, Corps of Engineers document:

History of the Development of Mechanical Equipment, XII. Fire Fighting - Equipment
ME-12, 6 September 1946, Issued by the Historical Staff, The Engineer Board, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

This document's principal value is a look at the creation of the CLASS 530 fire truck, a vehicle used well into the Viet Nam Conflict as the Army's Standard fire truck. It is worth noting that a version of this truck was built in Japan by Toyota for use there.

Table of Equipment 5-337, May 12, 1943, specified per Platoon one Truck, Fire, Powered, Pumper, CLASS 325 and three Trailer, Fire, Pumper, 500 GPM, CLASS 1000. This truck was built on a civilian 2WD (4x2) Ford, Dodge or Chevrolet 1-1/2-ton chassis and was the truck that went overseas with the first Platoons deployed. The behind the cab bed consisted of a 300 gallon water tank, two "hard line" reels, compartments to carry "laid " hose, tools, ladders and a rear step to carry fire-fighters. Mounted on the front bumper and driven by a shaft connected to the crankshaft pulley was a 300 GPM single stage Barton or Darley centrifugal pump. The truck was easy to drive and the pump simple to operate. However, it had two failings. First, it could not operate "off road" and second, it carried insufficient water. In late 1943 this truck built on an 1-1/2 ton military Chevrolet 4WD (4x4) chassis began arriving in the war's theaters. This largely overcame the 4x2's first failing. In mid 1944, Table of Equipment 5-500 authorized a Water Section for Platoons with specific identified needs. The section consisted of the standard Corps of Engineers potable water tanker (Truck, 2-1/2 Ton-6x6, Water Tank, 700 Gallon) and a man to drive it. This partially addressed the second failing of the CLASS 325 for those Platoons receiving this extra Section. Not all Platoons did.

TE 5-337 specified for those Platoons specializing in aircraft fires One Truck, Fire, Powered, Crash, CLASS 125, High Pressure Fog Foam, two Trailer, Fire Crash, High Pressure, CLASS 1010 and one CLASS 1000 Trailer Pumper. It is believed that while the TE called for the CLASS 125 to be deployed overseas it may not have done so. Research suggests the Truck, Fire, Powered, Crash, CLASS 135, High Pressure Fog Foam in 4x2 configuration and later in 4x4 was deployed in lieu of the CLASS 125. The 135 was similar to the 325 differing only in that had an additional "hard line" reel at the rear of the truck and it's front bumper mounted single stage Darley centrifugal pump was rated at 100 GPM delivered at a much higher pressure than the 325 (500 psi versus 120 psi).

The CLASS 135 and 325 were still in service at war's end plus a few CLASS 335s. This truck was created in the field by stripping the pump, piping, tools, etc. and portions of the bed from a CLASS 325 and mating them with the cab and chassis of a Truck, 2-1/2 ton, 6x6, Cargo on which had been installed a locally obtained 500 to 800 gallon water tank. This truck was the grandfather of the later to come CLASS 530. They were a great improvement over the 325, but sadly very few of them came into being before the end of the war.

The rationale of equipping fire fighting Platoons with fire fighting trailers has never been found. Certainly, the Platoons would have been more effective had they had fire trucks in place of trailers.

Trailer, Fire, Pumper, 500 GPM, CLASS 1000
This unit consisted of a 6 cylinder Dodge engine connected to a 500 GPM single stage Hale centrifugal pump and mounted in the Trailer, 1-Ton, 2 Wheel, Cargo. The unit carried hose, assorted tools, but no water or ladders. If speed in reaching a going fire was not an issue and if a large water supply was available at the scene, these units could be effective. If not, they were useless. They came into their own in long term pumping operations where they could run for hours, if not days, without failure. While the last TE located still specifies them, certain Platoons were able to replace them with fire trucks.

Trailer, Fire Crash, High Pressure, CLASS 1010
This unit appears to be a standard agricultural sprayer with hoses replacing the broadcast sprayer unit on the rear and mounted on a civilian trailer. It carried 150 gallons of water that was discharged at 35 GPM and 650 psi through a piston pump (no other information available). This unit was assigned to airbases where travel distance to a fire was relatively short. This plus carried water made it a more usable unit than the CLASS 1000.

Trailer, Fire Crash, High Pressure, CLASS 1020
This unit was specified in what may be the last TE of the war as a replacement for the CLASS 1010. A decade of research has failed to locate any information relating to it. Also contact with numerous Engineer firefighters specializing in aircraft fires has yet to locate a single man who heard of, saw or used a CLASS 1020.

Each Platoon had support vehicles that included, in varying numbers, Jeeps, Weapons Carriers (known in later years as the M-37) and Personnel Carriers (a six wheel version of the Weapons Carrier) plus the Water Tanker mentioned above, where applicable. The fire trucks issued each Platoon were too few in number and carried insufficient water. It is fair to say that given what was supplied the Platoons did a job in which they can take great pride.

Army Engineer Fire Trucks of World War II

The pictures below do not exactly show the fire trucks as used in the war. First, like all military vehicles they were OD (olive drab) in color, not red. Second, none of them carried a "monitor". And, third they carried a flashing red light/siren combination on the left front fender, not what is shown in the pictures. The pictures were taken in early post World War II Italy. (Click on a photo to see larger version; Copyright James G. Davis 2005, All Rights Reserved)

The left picture shows the "Work Horse" of the Engineer Fire Fighting Platoons, the CLASS 325 in 4x4 configuration. It was taken at the Peninsular Base Section's fire training school South of Rome. Note the "turn outs" on the firefighter. These were not issued during the war. Clothes then were coveralls, steel helmets and hip boots.

The right picture shows the fire trucks of the 1201st Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon in Naples, Italy. Left to right they are: the Platoon Commander's Jeep, a CLASS 325 on a Ford 4x2 chassis and mounting a 300 GPM Barton pump, two CLASS 325s on military Chevrolet 4x4 chassis and mounting 300 GPM Darley pumps and the standard Corps of Engineers 700 gallon potable water tanker.

Unfortunately, the Army did not take formal photos of their fire trucks and fire apparatus. Those of us who knew and used them can remember them. The rest of the world will not be able to so do.

Fire Equipment Photos and Specification Sheets

Click on any photo below for larger view and detail spec sheets in most cases
CLASS 325 4x2
CLASS 325 4x4

CLASS 335 6x6 (read added text)


 CLASS 135, 4x2

 CLASS 135, 4x4


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