Portfolio List

Evolution of early on-the-ground-fire equipment

Fire plow
In 1941, the TFS Fire Protection Division purchased five, two-wheel, five-horsepower tractors for plowing firebreaks.

Fire plow 1941  fire plow 2

With this technology, firelines could be constructed at the rate of two miles per hour. That same year, Texas held its forest fire losses in East Texas to under 38,000 acres, about 160,000 acres less than was burned the previous year. The area burned represented less than a half of one percent of the nearly nine million timbered acres under TFS protection. This was the lowest ever recorded to that date. The low record gave Texas “bragging rights” over ten other southern states, at least for that year.

Fire jeep
TFS conducted experiments and tests to develop a firefighting unit from surplus military Jeeps—the first in the South. Especially adapted to conditions of terrain, soil and underbrush peculiar to Texas, the equipment included a specifically designed middle buster type plow which folded up into the bed of the Jeep, a front grill, belly plates, a winch and a hydraulic lift, oversize mud tires, and a two-way radio. Each unit was operated by a two-man crew, one to drive and plow a fireline about three-feet wide, the other to follow and set backfires. By 1947, TFS was operating 21 of these units.

 fire jeep 1 fire jeep 2

Crawler tractors fitted with fire plows and transported on a flat-bed truck began to replace the firefighting Jeep and farm tractor as the TFS fire arsenal became more mechanized.