In 1949, the Glade Spring Fire Department, a small community volunteer department located in the hills of Southwest Virginia, was chartered. This is when the first piece of fire apparatus, a 1939 Chevrolet w/ a 218 inline 6 cyl. engine, was purchased from an armory. Members of community came together and created the Glade Spring Volunteer Fire Department. This truck, No. 1, was the only piece of apparatus the department had until 1955.
In 1955, the GSVFD purchase a ’55 Ford F-700 from Oren, out of Roanoke, VA. The department responded on calls using No. 1, and the ’55 (No. 2) until around 1962, which is when the department sold the ’39 model. The ’39 model was replaced with a ’62 model, and was sold in a sealed bid to a local postmaster at the time to be used as a farm vehicle. The No. 1 truck was used on the farm until around 1965, where it was parked in a barn for future plans of being restored. It remained in the barn until the members of the department recently set out on a search to find the old piece of department history.
Like any department, there were tales that had been passed along throughout the years about what had happened to the old truck. By this time, very few of the original members were still active in the department, and they thought they may be chasing a losing battle. Starting in mid-November of 2014, members of the department started knocking on doors and visiting with members of the community in an attempt to locate this truck.
Their luck turned around on a Sunday in November as four of their members eagerly stood on the porch of the Johnson residence. Within a few minutes, a gentleman opened the door and quickly stated that his father had purchased the truck years ago, and told the firefighters that it was stored in a barn located on the farmland. The firefighters explained that if they could indeed see the truck, and possibly borrow it for this years Christmas Banquet, that they had intentions of surprising one of the older members of the department that remembered the truck being in service. As a member of the community, Mr. Johnson indeed agreed to show the men the truck and allowed them to take it in to the station.
This December, the members made the trip to the farm and loaded the ’39 Chevy, which only had one flat tire, onto a roll back and hauled it to their fire station for clean-up. The members worked hard to clean up the antique truck, and doing so while keeping a secret from the older members.
This past weekend, the ’39 model was on display at the Glade Spring Vol. Fire Department’s 2014 Christmas Banquet, along side of the ’55 model (No. 2) like back in the day. The department is now talking with the family about possibly being able to assist in the restoration of the old truck.