Home » Campers » Converting a fire van into a camper (2) | Buy a suitable bus

Converting a fire van into a camper (2) | Buy a suitable bus

All right, the knot has been made. You are going to buy a fire brigade bus and the search can begin. But where do you start? We can well imagine that there are a lot of questions. Where can I find a good fire brigade bus, what should I pay attention to when purchasing, how much does something like this cost? In this article we try to answer these questions.

Also read: How to: Buy or convert a campervan

We bought a bus!

Wish list for buying a fire brigade bus

When we made the choice to buy a bus, it soon became clear to us that we did not want to buy a modern bus. We were very charmed by the idea of ​​going out in an old-fashioned car. A car with a story, or one that looks good. A modern bus undoubtedly offers a lot more luxury, requires less maintenance and is probably a bit more pleasant to drive than an older one, but that hasn't changed our mind. When you are looking for a bus, it is therefore important to determine what type of bus you want and what degree of comfort you want.

Also read:

Converting a fire van into a camper (1) | The Backpack Pick
Converting a fire van into a camper (2) | Buy a suitable bus
Converting a fire van into a camper (3) | RDW design requirements and job plan
Converting a fire van into a camper (4) | A new floor
Converting a fire van into a camper (5) | Insulating the bus
Converting a fire van into a motorhome (6) | Raising the roof
Converting a fire van into a camper (7) | Installing walls, vinyl and windows
Converting a fire van into a camper (8) | Arranging and installing furniture

In addition, it is good to ask yourself whether you want to do odd jobs or would like or be able to do something about the bus yourself. There are plenty of buses that are already fully equipped as motorhomes and are registered as such, but it is of course also an option to take up the challenge of getting started yourself. The amount of time you have or want to spend will of course depend on this.

We have chosen to get started ourselves, so if ignorance is an obstacle to making this choice, we certainly recommend that you keep an eye on our website. We take you all the way through the conversion process!

Because we have experience with the purchase of an old (fire) bus, this article will mainly be about this.

Determine budget

Once you've made your wish list, the next step is to determine a budget. It's not only good to think about how much you want to spend on a fire truck, there are also other costs that you will have to take into account. If you are going to work on the bus, you have to reserve a budget for the costs that this entails. Think of parts, material and equipment. We will make a separate article about the costs of the conversion once Brumm is ready.

Also note the road tax and particulate matter surcharge (for polluting diesel vehicles) and the costs for an APK inspection. Your bus must be insured and you may also want to store the bus in a garage. All this is of course independent of the maintenance costs.

TheBackpackkies | Wereldreizigers.nl

We started our search with a budget in mind, but it soon became clear to us that we would not easily find a bus for that amount that would meet our wish list. During the search we therefore adjusted our budget and once we had decided to buy Brumm, we also made an estimate of the other costs that would still come our way.

Where can I buy a fire brigade bus?

We looked at several buses.

We have often been asked where we found Brumm. When we first started searching we didn't really have an idea, but we soon became a bit more handy.

At first we were looking for an old-fashioned Volkswagen van. Who doesn't want that? Such a cute car. It always looks so nice when one drives by. We also drove an old T1 and that was a lot of fun, but it also made it clear that we didn't want this after all. We find this type of van more suitable for shorter distances and we did not see ourselves crossing all of Europe with it.

We preferred to buy a somewhat larger, more robust bus. And then an old-fashioned fire brigade bus caught our eye and we saw some examples of converted buses that looked really cool. In fact, we didn't think about other options after that moment and the search term on Marktplaats, among others, was adjusted.

Online sites such as Marktplaats

Marktplaats is pre-eminently one of the places to buy a fire brigade bus and we found out that there are also a number of people in the Netherlands who trade in old fire brigade buses. They import the buses from Germany and Austria, among others, and thus take some of the worry away from the buyer. We have been in contact with some of these people and have also seen some buses. Examples of this are Brand Weer op Weg and Dutch Firetrucks.

There are also a lot of buses on Marktplaats that have been in the Netherlands for a long time and have therefore already had an owner here. Some of these buses have already been converted into motorhomes, or at least an attempt has been made to…

Facebook pages

In addition to Marktplaats, there are also Facebook pages where these buses are sold. Some pages are specifically aimed at a certain car make, such as the Double air page on Facebook. This is a Facebook group of an association for Mercedes buses and buses are also regularly offered for sale.

Import a fire truck

Of course, instead of buying a fire brigade bus in the Netherlands, you can also cross the border yourself and import a bus. Given all the Corona measures, we didn't think that was such a good idea, but we have seen enough beautiful buses that were a lot more affordable… It is a bit more arranged if you want to do this, but it is worth considering.

In the end we bought Brumm through Marktplaats. We went twice, took a ride and had a good feeling about it. That didn't make the decision that hard.

Hints | Wpay attention when visiting

Of course, no bus is the same, so it is difficult to give an unambiguous answer. Nevertheless, we have some general tips for you.

  • Look, look, look. That way you can compare well.
  • Try to detect rust. Also look under the bus!
  • Take a test drive. Then you can also test whether the bus starts properly.
  • Check the profile of the tires.
  • Check whether the bus has been recently serviced.
  • Ask if the bus has been inside.

Go see a lot of fire brigade buses

Denise's father has quite a bit of knowledge of car technology and advised us to go and see a lot of buses. This gave us a good idea of ​​what was for sale and for what amount. We drove a lot of miles to see all kinds of fire trucks! This is how we discovered which type of bus we would prefer, because in some variants we could stand and in others it was a lot more difficult.


We have noticed that quite a lot of buses suffer from rust spots. Make no mistake, old fire trucks have had a lot to do with water when extinguishing, so if they have not been able to stay inside or have not been maintained properly, rust will develop.

Watch out for rust spots when you go to view a bus.

Rust can of course be remedied, but it is a lot of extra work and that takes time and also entails additional costs. Some buses had already been partially refurbished, but it is quite difficult to see how the sheet metal has been treated. Sometimes the rust spot is only repainted and that does not mean that the rust is gone. It is also not always easy to see exactly where rust runs, so what damage it may have caused or can still cause. It is then difficult to determine how best to solve this. So keep this in mind if you are going to buy a bus. Of course you don't want to be faced with unpleasant surprises while doing the odd job.

Motorhome inspection, RDW and Tax Authorities

We are going to write an article about this, but if you plan to have the fire brigade bus officially approved as a camper, it is important to take the requirements of both the RDW and the Tax Authorities into account. These are very easy to find online. So check carefully whether the bus you have in mind meets these requirements. If this is not the case, consider carefully whether you can make the necessary adjustments.

Age and weight † Driving license B or C

Another important aspect in the search is the weight of the bus. Many fire brigade buses are heavier than 3500 kilograms, which means that you are not allowed to drive in them with a B driving license. And if you want to convert the bus into a camper, it will be weighed again at the RDW. So you should also take into account the extra weight that will be added during the renovation when purchasing. So make sure you have some slack in this!


The age and type of fuel are also things to think about and check when buying a fire truck. For Diesel buses that are younger than 40 years old, road tax must still be paid and also the particulate matter surcharge. This amount can add up and it is a shame if you only find out when there is a blue envelope in the letterbox. Brumm is not yet 40 years old and it is a Diesel, so we had to think about this for a while.

Fortunately, you can request the special rate from the Tax Authorities for a motorhome and then you 'only' pay a quarter of the road tax. NB! The bus must therefore meet certain requirements!

Petrol or LPG buses are a lot cheaper. If they are younger than 40 you still pay road tax, but this is a lower rate. The exact amounts can be found on the website of the Tax Authorities.

We hope this article has given you answers to some questions. We have mainly gained our knowledge through our own experience and a lot of research. If you have any questions or comments, we'd love to hear them!

Also read:

Converting a fire van into a camper (1) | The Backpack Pick
Converting a fire van into a camper (2) | Buy a suitable bus
Converting a fire van into a camper (3) | RDW design requirements and job plan
Converting a fire van into a camper (4) | A new floor
Converting a fire van into a camper (5) | Insulating the bus
Converting a fire van into a motorhome (6) | Raising the roof
Converting a fire van into a camper (7) | Installing walls, vinyl and windows
Converting a fire van into a camper (8) | Arranging and installing furniture

About the Backpackkies

We are the Backpackkies and recently bought a fire brigade bus. We are going to convert this into a camper ourselves and in the coming time we will take you through our process. So do you want to know more about this? Then follow us on Instagram via @derugzakkies, watch our videos on YouTube or visit our website derugzakkies.nl† In addition, we will also regularly share our experiences on wereldreizigers.nl† See you soon!

the backpacks


We are Merijn and Denise and since October 2020 we are the proud owners of Brumm the fire brigade bus. We were actually supposed to leave on a world trip in March 2020. A long cherished dream that would finally come true. Covid 19 messed up all our plans and this dream is in the fridge for the time being.

Because we would like to be able to travel, we came up with another plan: The Backpackkies 2.0! We decided to buy an old fire truck and convert it into a camper. A very cool project in which we get help from Denise's father. He is a true expert when it comes to converting cars and the three of us spend many hours converting the bus.

We make videos and write stories about Brumm and the conversion into a camper and share as much as possible about this with you. And when Brumm is ready to explore Europe, we will of course take you on this adventure too!

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

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