New Life For An Old Fire Truck
If you drove past the Town of Davidson Public Works property (across the street from the Ada Jenkins Center) any time over the past year, you likely saw old Fire Engine #2 parked along the fence.
The 1992 Pierce Lance fire truck was a mainstay for the Davidson Fire Department for nearly 3 decades. When the truck came into service, the department was still known as the Davidson Volunteer Fire Department, and Fire Chief Bo Fitzgerald was in middle school.
And while the truck was still serviceable, it had been taken out of the rotation when the Town’s newest fire truck was placed into service in April 2019.
You might be wondering what you do with a used fire truck. No, not Carmax, not Craig’s List, not even Carvana – or “Firetruckvana.” The town listed the 28-year old truck on a web site for government sales.
And that might have been the end of the story. Old truck finishes service life. Listed for surplus. Sold for surplus.
But wait, that’s not the end of this story.
On August 11, the Millers Ferry Volunteer Fire Department (near Salisbury) responded to an accident on I-85. They had three trucks on scene. While they were focused on responding to one emergency, the unthinkable happened. Another 18-wheel tractor trailer truck veered off I-85 and plowed into all three of their firetrucks.
Thankfully, and amazingly, no firefighters were injured. In fact, as one of their firefighters said – the trucks did exactly what we want them to do. A tractor trailer truck plowing through an accident site is the worst-case scenario that every fire department hopes they never experience, but prepares for nonetheless.
“If people wonder why we respond with so many trucks, it’s because we use them as blocking devices” said one of the MFVFD firefighters.
When word got out in the firefighting community, nearby stations responded immediately. The accident had not only taken a toll on the trucks, but on the firefighters. So other local fire departments brought their trucks and crews to cover the calls for MFVFD.But as much as the Millers Ferry Volunteer Fire Department appreciated the help, they knew that kind of help couldn’t work for the long term. Josh Fox is the Fire Chief for the Millers Ferry Volunteer Fire Department. He knew he had to find a way to get his firefighters back on the horse…or fire truck.
New fire trucks are special orders, and they estimated that it could take six months to a year before they could get new trucks or get the old trucks repaired – if they are assessed to be repairable.
That’s where old fire truck #2 comes into the picture. Chief Fitzgerald asked the Town Board if the town would consider loaning fire truck #2 to MFVFD. Pending legal review, Town Board authorized Chief Fitzgerald to do just that. But before the transfer could take place, DFD took the truck in to get serviced to make sure that it was ready to roll. Then the truck was moved to Station 1 for firefighters to check out the systems to make sure they were still in working order.
The Chief was at Fire Station 1 when we stopped by to take some pictures of the truck. He seemed to get a little sentimental when walking around the old truck – more sentimental than we expected. That’s when he reminisced and said he met Adah when responding to a call with fire truck #2. Bo, Davidson Class of ‘99, was a volunteer fire fighter and responded in fire truck #2 to a call on campus. That’s where it all began. Adah, Class of ’01, became a volunteer firefighter, too. And the rest is, as they say, Davidson history.
A few days later, we made a visit to Millers Ferry Fire Station number one. Decked out in a “Davidson” t-shirt, it wasn’t lost on the firefighters why we were there. One of them volunteered to show us the damaged trucks, which are parked behind the fire station. The damage is staggering. You can see it for yourself, just take a look at the album of photos.
Firefighters had already begun the work of stripping the usable equipment. Gone were the hoses, ladders, and even some of the lights.
Meanwhile, in bay number one – Davidson’s old fire truck #2 was coming back to life. A technician was inside the truck installing communications equipment. In fact, it was equipment that came out of one of the damaged trucks. Hoses and ladders were back in place. The big red truck with lights and sirens, was becoming a fire truck in front of our eyes.
Fire truck #2 is once again ready to be driven towards danger, toward the emergencies where people are in need, and where the firefighters of Millers Ferry Volunteer Fire Department will rely on the 1992 Lance that served Davidson for more than two decades.
Millers Ferry Fire Chief Josh Fox summed up his thoughts by saying “We just can’t thank y’all enough. This means everything to us; it will keep us in business.”
Tuesday night the Town Board made the loan permanent. By unanimous vote, the board voted to give fire truck #2 to the Millers Ferry Volunteer Fire Department. Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 160A-274 a municipality “is authorized to donate, sell or lease equipment to another municipality under terms that the board ‘deems wise.’ Compensation is not required.”