Local News

Town Finds Original Fire Truck

Posted December 28, 2006 7:48 p.m. EST
Updated December 28, 2006 9:09 p.m. EST

— Sometimes, a truck becomes part of a family -- old, reliable, and packed with memories behind the wheel. That's the case in Johnston County, where a very special fire truck was lost and now has been found.

In Wilsons Mills, the town’s very first fire truck -- a Mack truck built in 1947 -- was bought used in 1973.

“It represents what we call the true volunteer fire department,” Wilsons Mills Fire Chief Ricky Barbour said.

Wilsons Mills used the Mack truck for about eight years. In 1981, the fire department reluctantly sold it to pay for a modern engine. But firefighters never forgot the old truck.

“Several years back, it hit me one night, ‘You know, it sure would be nice if that plaything was in existence. Could we find it,” Barbour said.

Officials searched for the vehicle, which was found to have changed hands about seven times since they sold it. One owner died, and his wife was unable to help.

“She had Alzheimer’s disease, and so when we contacted her about to whom she sold the equipment, she didn't have a clue,” Barbour said.

Finally, in 2002, they found it.

“We got to the guy, who said, ‘It's sitting right out there in my pasture,’” Barbour said. “They literally had to have briar access to cut a path in there to it to find it.”

It took firefighters three years to raise the money to restore it. Prison inmates did the work and returned the truck this month.

“All of us, our mouths just flew right open,” Barbour said. “It was absolutely amazing.”

“This is what started our fire department,” Captain Anthony Medlin said. “It's the first fire truck I rode in. It surpasses everything I thought it'd look like.”

The Mack truck is now retired from fighting fires. The department will roll it out for parades and use it to carry fallen firefighters to their final resting place.