The 1971 Dennis D600 (Mk 2) Pumper - Motor Engine 450 "The JAG"
This week, in the year of its golden jubilee, we shine a spotlight on our 1971 Dennis D600 (“Mk 2”) Pumper. This specific appliance has seen the many sights of New South Wales having served at Lidcombe (1972), Moss Vale (1981), Bowral (as a spare; 1985), Narooma (SEV 1986), and Jindabyne (1995) Brigades until it was retired in 1998.
Behind the shiny, red exterior is a peek into automotive history. From the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s, the New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB; or as you now know them - Fire and Rescue NSW) had constructed most of their pumping appliances using imported, purpose-built fire engine chassis and locally made bodies. They then moved on to using locally sourced commercial truck chassis to which they fitted firefighting equipment (often recycled from obsolete vehicles) as well as bodywork. They successfully made over Bedford, Commer, and Ford chassis for this role over the next few years.
This all changed in 1969 when the Brigade teamed up with Dennis in the UK. Dennis Specialist Vehicles was a major manufacturer of fire appliances and exported these all around the world, including to the fire services of Singapore, Athens, Barbados, Cairo, Penang and Shanghai. They made a name for themselves by making every appliance to order and to the unique specifications of the customer. The Brigade announced that it had placed orders with Dennis for a large number of completely built-up pumpers. They had chosen two models; the F44, an 800 gpm model powered by a Rolls Royce engine; and the smaller D2 600 gpm model.
The D series pumper was powered by the well-proven Jaguar 4.2 litre 6 cylinder engine (similar to that used in its motor car range). Fittingly, it was soon given the nickname “Dennis Jag” or just “Jag” within the Brigade. Drive was through a 5 speed manual constant mesh gearbox and at the rear was a Dennis No 2 pump, rated at 600 gmp. A spacious wooden-framed fibreglass-clad cabin was provided for the crew. What a dream!
This model was so successful that some 75 units were placed in service over the next 3 years. The second and third batches ordered in 1970/1 had a slightly different locker and pump configurations for improved operational efficiency, leading to “Mk 1” and “Mk 2” designations to distinguish the two types. They typically remained in service for over 20 years.
This particular vehicle is an “Mk 2” variant from the 1971 order. Motor Engine 450 was one of the last to enter service in January 1972 and operated until its retirement in 1998. It found its way to Fire and Rescue NSW’s Heritage Fleet at the Museum in 1999 and now lives a life of luxury being tended to by the Museum’s devoted volunteers.
The JAG was featured in the Museum's exhibit at the Easter Show earlier this year and it was displayed at our Dennis Day Heritage Event back in February.
If this appliance piqued your interest, be sure to come down to our Heritage Day on November 21st where we’ll have select heritage vehicles on display as voted by you! To find out more information about this event click here!
-Story by Museum of Fire Heritage and Digital Teams