MVFD Old Truck No. 2 now a faded reminder of a once-glorious past

by Peter J. Teagle - Posted on May 16, 2018 - 11:10 AM

Photo: Little remains today of Mathews Volunteer Fire Department Truck No. 2. It rests in the junkyard behind Tom Hearn Auto and is believed to have arrived there in 1986 following engine failure while hauling grain from Richmond to feed hogs. The truck ended its career as a farm use vehicle, hence the black bed that replaced tanks and hoses. Photo by Peter J. Teagle

Little remains today of Mathews Volunteer Fire Department Truck No. 2. It rests in the junkyard behind Tom Hearn Auto and is believed to have arrived there in 1986 following engine failure while hauling grain from Richmond to feed hogs. The truck ended its career as a farm use vehicle, hence the black bed that replaced tanks and hoses. Photo by Peter J. Teagle

Photo: The Mathews Volunteer Fire Department bought a new fire engine in January 1949 at a cost of $9,221. The department had $6,000 and citizens contributed the balance through raffles and other fundraisers. Showing the new engine, from left, are Joyce Nohen, Audrey White, Ann Shinault, Joyce Diggs, Diana Hudgins, Paul Woodson and Tommy Hunley.

The Mathews Volunteer Fire Department bought a new fire engine in January 1949 at a cost of $9,221. The department had $6,000 and citizens contributed the balance through raffles and other fundraisers. Showing the new engine, from left, are Joyce Nohen, Audrey White, Ann Shinault, Joyce Diggs, Diana Hudgins, Paul Woodson and Tommy Hunley.

In the junkyard behind Tom Hearn Automotive in Cobbs Creek, between a derelict school bus and the rusted-out shell of a C-10 pickup, sits Mathews Volunteer Fire Department Truck No. 2.

A young tree grows up through the engine compartment where a Chevrolet motor once hummed. The truck’s firefighting accoutrements are long gone, save for a spotlight mounted above the driver’s side of the cab.

The unit was the second vehicle owned by the Mathews Volunteer Fire Department. It was the first to feature a water tank and hoses, as the original unit in service relied on acid and other chemicals to fight blazes. 

Getting this new engine took longer than planned, as Gazette-Journal archives indicate that in 1947 the public seemed hesitant to fund the purchase.

“Colonel H.F. Dunlap, who was authorized to solicit funds for the purchase of the fire apparatus, reports that contributions are not being received as was anticipated,” an Oct. 2, 1947 story explained.

The engine was finally delivered in 1949 after being purchased for $9,221—$6,000 paid by the department, with residents raising the rest.

It featured a 500-gallon tank and was used as the primary firefighting vehicle for the county until 1955, when a newer truck joined the department and took some of the heat off No. 2.

While the tank was adequate for fighting many fires, it did struggle at times with larger structure fires that demanded a great deal of water.

It served Mathews until 1971, when a 1970 Chevrolet fire truck replaced the old No. 2. The unit was still kept in reserve for a few years before being sold.

The vehicle was subsequently bought by Robert Lewis, a firefighter and farmer in the county, who had the firefighting equipment stripped from the back and replaced with a black metal truck bed.