#Lookback: First Firefighting Vehicle in Dubois

A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System
where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and
presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

In a dry environment filled with trees, grasses, and lightning storms, it is no surprise that fighting fires has long been a concern for the residents of Fremont County. As fires continue to be a threat to homes and livelihoods, the methods for fighting them have developed in sophistication, growing from simple bucket brigades to developing helicopters that drop thousands of gallons of retardant.

The first firefighting vehicle in the town of Dubois began its life as a Jeep. Following their success in the Second World War, the Willys-Overland company transitioned from building military Jeeps to a civilian counterpart. According to the company, almost 75% of American farmers did not have a truck or trailer, so the “Agri-Jeep” was meant to take the place of both vehicles. Beyond its proposed agricultural uses, the civilian Jeep was used for hundreds of other applications, specially modified to suit each purpose.

One of the many civilian Jeep applications was for a small fire engine. The Boyer Fire Apparatus Company in Indiana produced a variety of fire extinguishers and larger apparatus for controlling fires, and they were one of two companies that converted Willys-Overland Jeeps into fire engines. The back of the Jeep is converted into a storage area, while two hard pipes for pumping water and a ladder are installed on top of the vehicle. To complete the engine, a siren sits above the left wheel. Once the Jeep Fire Engine was completed in 1947, it was sent to Kurland Motors in Denver, Colorado before working
its way up to the town of Dubois.

Once it arrived in Dubois, the engine did not sit unused. In 1951, records note that “Quick action by volunteer firemen averted what could have been a disastrous fire ….” Even when not fully operational the engine was put through its paces, two or three people pushing the engine to get it going when the battery was out. In 1955, a fire in the dead of night destroyed the grade school and gym buildings. Arden and Hazel Coad remembered this event as initiating the organization of a proper Dubois Volunteer Fire Department to replace the relatively unorganized prior volunteers. Once the new DVFD had organized and built a new fire barn, a new fire truck was bought, outstripping the Jeep in terms of
capacity and utility.

Dubois’ first fire engine now sits behind the Dubois Museum and will soon be sent away for restoration.

Next up for the Fremont County Museum

December 2022-October 2023 at the Pioneer Museum, “Wind River Memories: Artists
of the Lander Valley and Beyond” art exhibition

December 10, 10-4pm at the Riverton Museum, “Christmas Open House”

December 10, 2-4pm at the Riverton Museum, “Santa’s Workshop” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop
Children’s Exploration Series Program

December 17, 2-4pm at the Pioneer Museum in Lander, “Old Fashioned Christmas
Open House” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series Program

Call the Dubois Museum 1-307-455-2284, the Pioneer Museum 1-307-332-3339 or the
Riverton Museum 1-307-856-2665 for detail regarding their programs.
The Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation has been created to specifically benefit
The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum.  The
WRCCF will help deliver the long term financial support our museums need to flourish.
 In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on
donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections
management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last four
years.  Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the
benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Wind River Cultural
Centers Foundation at PO Box 1863 Lander, WY 82520 or taking it directly to the
museum you choose to support.

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