MVFD roots go back to 1921

- Posted on May 16, 2018 - 11:33 AM

Mathews Volunteer Fire Department Inc. is the outgrowth of the former Mathews Fire Protection Association. As far back as 1921, interest was shown by some concerned citizens to establish some type of fire protection for the court house area.

After several disastrous fires in the business district at Mathews Court House, the Mathews Fire Protection Association was formed. The organization’s first piece of equipment was a hand-drawn, two-wheeled cart with two small soda and acid tanks and a small hose.

In 1937, the association purchased a 1929 model Chevrolet truck. It was equipped with two large soda and acid tanks and hose and was to be used primarily to protect the Court House area. Charges were made for calls outside of the court house area. That same year, the first firehouse was built on the same site as the current Mathews station.

In 1946, a few civic-minded individuals banded together to form the Mathews Volunteer Fire Department. They continued to use the soda and acid truck until 1948, when a drive was held to solicit funds from the citizens of Mathews in an effort to purchase an up-to-date fire truck to furnish fire protection for the entire county.

A 1948 Chevrolet truck was ordered and delivered in January 1949. This truck was equipped with a pump, water tank, hose and ladders. The fund drive had not provided enough funds to pay for the truck, so for the next several years, the firemen held carnivals and bingo games to complete the purchase. In preparation for the new truck, an addition was made on the Mathews firehouse. All work was done with volunteer labor and donated materials.

In 1949, a group of volunteers set up a fire station at Bohannon (Station 2). The station was built with volunteer labor and donated materials on land loaned to the fire department by J.A. Clements. When the station was completed, the 1929 soda and acid truck was stationed there.

In 1951, a used 1945 Ford truck chassis was purchased. W.R. Brewer, with volunteer help, installed a pump, tank, hose reels and ladder racks and built a body. The truck replaced the obsolete soda and acid truck at Bohannon.

Additional fire protection for the county was added in 1956 when a new International truck fully equipped was purchased for the Mathews Station (Station 1). The 1948 Chevrolet was moved to the Bohannon Station and a new station was organized on Gwynn’s Island (Station 3). The Ford truck from Bohannon was moved to Gwynn’s Island and housed in a building owned by the Gwynn’s Island Civic League.

The Mathews station was enlarged for the second time in 1957 and a surplus Willis Jeep with four-wheel drive was purchased. It was equipped by the Virginia Forest Service with a water tank, hose and pump. It proved to be an invaluable aid in the suppression of field and woods fires.

A new fully equipped Ford truck was purchased in 1962 for use at the Gwynn’s Island Station.