More than 30 years after Mar-Mac Volunteer Fire Department’s first fire engine was decommissioned, the vintage truck has returned home.
Now the department’s staff is working to figure out how to pay to restore the vehicle.
The fire truck, a 1951 Chevrolet 6400, recently returned home thanks to Foss Recycling and the efforts of Tommy Baker, Mar-Mac Volunteer Fire Department chief.
Brown said the truck was was hand built by members of the department and that it has a rich history between its service with the department and what happened to it after it was decommissioned.
“This truck responded to a minimum of 1,000 calls during its time at the department,” Brown said. “Eventually, one of our original members bought the truck after it went out of service and sold it to a family here in Wayne County. About 10 years ago, it came to my attention that it had been sold to N.C. Salvage, but we couldn’t afford to buy it at the time.
“The truck’s co-owner at the time, who was one of our members, did not want to let it get scrapped. When N.C. Salvage was bought by Foss Recycling, Foss donated it to us, so I’m as happy as can be to have the truck back home. I’ve been trying to get my hands on it for 10 years. This was the first truck to serve this community from this department.”
The truck, which is now in a lot behind the fire department on Old Grantham Road, is covered in rust.
The windows are broken and the seats are rotted away. The pump that once sat on front of the truck is missing. Brown said the pump is a piece of the truck he especially would love to have back on the vehicle.
Brown said the ultimate goal with the truck is to restore it to its former glory and use it in parades, at car shows and at department fundraising events. It has to be restored first, though, and Brown said the department’s staff is examining ways to raise the money to restore the vehicle.
“The cost to fully restore it is going to be between $30,000 and $40,000,” Brown said. “We are looking at planning fundraisers, for instance, and will accept donations from the public, too. All donations are tax deductible. People can just make checks out to the Mar-Mac Volunteer Fire Department and write in the memo line that it is to help pay for the truck’s restoration.”
He said while the price tag for the truck’s restoration is expensive, the cost of a brand new modern fire engine is much higher. He said the average price for a new engine today is between $500,000 and $700,000.
Brown is not the only member of the department who is excited the truck is back home. Other department members are just as excited.
Capt. Justin Allen, with Mar-Mac Volunteer Fire Department, is among the younger department members excited to see the truck restored.
“That truck is the blood, sweat and tears of so many people,” Allen said. “It was hand built, not some machine made thing. My first reaction at seeing it when it was brought in was shock. When a vehicle like that goes, you don’t expect to ever see it again.
“Seeing that truck there, it’s like looking back at the department’s history in person up close. We want to make sure we give it the respect that it deserves.”
Brown said depending on how quickly it can secure the funding needed to fully restore the truck, the process could take between three and four years.
“It’s a labor of love,” Brown said. “It’s going to take a long time and a lot of work and money but it’s worth it.”