Family of Four Is Living the Life in a Fire Truck Turned Self-Sufficient Camper Van
Beyond all statistics and trends, the fact is there will always be people who just want to enjoy as much freedom as they can, while living in harmony with the environment, and not worrying so much about bills and other common hassles. Tiny homes are one way to go for those who aren’t keen on traveling. Motorhomes are the obvious choice but not the most affordable one.
Plus, they don’t really fit in the whole downsizing/upcycling/sustainable living trend.
This is where camper conversion comes in – it’s crazy what handy people can do with different vehicles to turn them into campers. If you’re just one person, like this former Navy, you could even get away with living in your Porsche. If you have a wife and two daughters, however, converting a fire truck seems more appropriate.
This is what Dave from the UK did. A few years ago, feeling dissatisfied with the typical van offerings on the market, Dave eventually decided to give a former fire truck a chance. The venerable Iveco Zeta 79/14 fiberglass high top was a 27-year “young” truck that had been part of the Nottinghamshire fire service fleet, where its job was to carry additional breathing apparatus for complex missions.
This meant not only a respectable history that added a sense of pride, but was also an advantage for practical considerations – the vehicle had been well maintained and only had 40,000 miles (64,340 km) on the clock.
Dave and his family purchased it from a private seller online, who lived in the area, so the former fire truck got delivered pretty fast. Must have been quite a sight – it’s not every day that you see a fire truck in your neighbor’s garage.
The family did most of the work on the truck themselves, since upcycling was so important to them. For a year and a half, the two slowly converted the former truck into a camper.
They used a lot of reclaimed wood, including parts that came from an old Methodist chapel. But, before that, they had to strip the inside of the truck back to its bare walls, by removing all the cladding. This also including cutting out the bulkhead, removing unnecessary cables, and lifting the wooden floor in order to add a 25 mm (0.9″) insulation layer.
It’s one thing to modify and add a thing or two on something that’s similar to a van, but it’s a whole different story to build a new interior from scratch. Dave said that insulating and cladding the roof was definitely one of the hardest parts, but the bathroom and kitchen were also tricky, because of the tiny space. Also, let’s not forget that three girls were about to live there, so plenty of storage was a must.
The kitchen was linked to a 55-liter Gas-it LPG tank, and was equipped with a fridge, a stove and a wood-burning stove (another salvaged piece). The gas and electricity installation was one of the biggest expenses, to which they added 175 W solar panels and a 110 AMP leisure battery.
Finally, the converted truck was fitted with a roof rack, and a welder was contracted to also weld tank brackets underneath the truck for a 250 L (66 gallons) fresh water tank and a 100 L (26.4 gallons) one for grey water. The goal was for the family to be able to travel for extensive periods of time and camp out anywhere without the usual restrictions associated with camping sites.
Dave and Jess are so proud of their unusual campervan, that they even call themselves the FireTruck Family, and have started a travel blog.
Since 2017, when the conversion project began, the parents and their daughters have traveled over 4,000 miles (6,440 km) across Europe.
It hasn’t been easy to get to this point, but when they’re admiring a sunset from the roof top, they know it was all worth it.