Old Co.1 Picture

The Original County Fire Station

Old apparatus at Old Fire Station 1

Old Engine 1

Below are some comments from the old members of Powhatan Volunteer Fire Department. These comments all started about a week ago after a picture was sent around by email. We thought this was a great history lesson for the younger members of the department. This also shows how times have changed from having to make or convert vehicles to use as a tanker and receiving a tanker from the county that values at $430,000.00. Thanks Floyd Greene & Wayne Cosner for your comments.

To keep the history lesson going:

I dont know how/why the Emergency Crew fire unit numbers changed from 1, 2, 3 but after that they were numbered:

10 & 11 for Ambulances and 20, 21, & 22 for the fire units.

When Company 2 began taking calls August 15, 1971 (that is a whole other story) we had one radio on the same frequency as Emergency Crew units. It was in the Red short wheel base 1953 Chevrolet Bean High Pressure and it was numbered Unit 30. The log wheel base 1952 Chevrolet Bean High Pressure (that now resides in my garage) was numbered 31. The 1955 Ford American Lafrance (with the big 500 gpm pump) and the big lines (1 1/2") when it went in service a while later (that's another story) it was numbered 32. In addition to the one low band radio in Unit 30, it and the other three units had high band radios in them that were licensed to HVFD on frequency 154.340. There was also a radio on the desk in the bay.

Up until January 1, 1973 the Emergency Crew had it's own telephone number to receive calls for assistance. HVFD had multiple numbers listed. Davis Merchant for day calls and several members' home numbers for night calls. Who ever received the call for assistance would then start calling other members on the phone to notify them of the call if they remembered to call before they ran out the door (it sucked to be on the list that Chuck Urbine was supposed to be calling). Sheriff Simpson took his calls at home.

During December 1972 HVFD members constructed the county's first dispatch office. It was an 8' X 12' office on the second floor of the Simpson Office Building (next door to the current County Seat Restaurant). The Sheriff's office was downstairs. When dispatch first opened about January 1, 1973 they did not have a radio but at least there was finally only one number published for emergency calls for the county. After the dispatcher received a call they would then have to call the telephone tree for the respective fire department, rescue duty crew on duty, or sheriff. Later that spring a base station controller was added at the dispatch office along with a tone encoder. These were connected via telephone lines to the base station located at the Emergency Crew and the antenna was on the pole beside the building (you can see it in the picture).

About this time is when the EMS folks at the Emergency Crew decided to split from the Emergency Crew. The fire folks left then changed their name back to Powhatan Fire Department.

This is when it was agreed upon that to make it simpler for the dispatchers, to change the unit numbers of the Powhatan Fire Department to 10, 11, & 12; HVFD numbers to 20, 21, & 22; and they added a "1" in front of the ambulance numbers to make them 110 and 111.

Later the fire units were changed again to follow the same numbering scheme used by Chesterfield County units with the first digit the company number and the second digit: 10 Chief; 11 Asst Chief; 12, 13, 14 engines; 15 High Pressure pumpers; 16 tankers; 17 cars; 18 brush trucks; 19 equipment units.

That's enough for tonight.


Okay, Floyd has jogged my memory about some more Co. 1 tanker memorabilia:

He's right about the 6x6 tanker. It had a turning radius of about 100 yards and was known to take down a number of trees while getting into position on a fire scene. It took out a whole row of crape myrtle bushes ( big ones) on Petersburg Road. The story goes about house fire on Rocky Ford Road where the only property saved was the chimney, well and septic tank. Before we left the scene, the chimney had fallen into the well and the tanker had backed over the septic tank and fell through. Not a good day.

It's replacement was a NEW 1974 Ford F-650 1200 gallon John Bean with a PTO pump. It was one of the first, if not THE first, tanker in this area to have a "jet dump". PFD was indeed one of the pioneers in the Rural Water Supply tanker shuttle concept. The truck (unit 16) sold for $16,000. While the county did not have funds to pay for it, Elwood Yates and the late Julian Sledd went to the Bank of Powhatan and signed a personal loan so that the FD could get it. I trust they were later repaid. Talk about faith and dedication. Would anyone want to sign for a tanker now? Not me. I bought the folding tank from Jack Slagle for $330.. Co. 2 got a similar tanker about two years later (U-26) to replace their fuel oil tanker( an old Dodge).

Something I forgot about U-22: The equipment on it included 2 rubber rain coats , 2 helmets , a painter's ladder and a set of jumper cables.

To add a little more history for the youngsters.

I believe this truck was the first and only fire truck in the county from when Powhatan Fire Department was formed (before ambulances were added and name changed to Emergency Crew) until the new 1955 John Bean high pressure pumper (2 booster lines 30 gpm at 800PSI) was purchased.

The third fire truck was the 1969 Cab over 750 GPM Pumper that also had a high pressure pump. It can be seen through the window of the station.

I think the first truck in the picture remained in service until about 1973 when it was replaced by a military 6X6 tanker truck. This "new" tanker had a tank about 1200 gallons and no fire pump, just a 4 1/2" outlet for the engine to use their 4 1/2" draft hose to draft water from the tanker. Therefore the tanker had to maneuver close beside the engine for the draft hose to reach. On more than one occasion, to get close to the engine the 6X6 tanker pushed down trees to get close enough.

That tanker remained in service until about 1975 when it was replaced with a new 1200 gallon Bean tanker with 450 gpm pump, jet dump, and draft tank.

That tanker remained in service until it was replaced by the current S&S tanker.


This was the first truck I ever drove on a fire call...a field fire, just west of the Rt.60 entrance to Branchway Forest. I distinctly remember a slight skirmish among the fire fighters and some bystanders ( not other firefighters this time) but that is another story.

It was originally a fuel oil delivery truck and had 3 separate tank compartments joined together by a small pipe- 1.5'" I think. and had a homemade 2.5 quick fill on the rear. The truck was a Ford , I believe it was a 50 model but not sure. I don't think we had a title to it. None of the 6 tires matched and when the rear ones were completely slick we found a set in the woods behind Woodfin Auto Parts and Southside Speedway. Mr. Woodfin gave them to us. When the flat-head engine failed, it was replaced with a 283 cu. in. Chevrolet engine, thanks to Shirley Wood, Cliff Mahone , Herman Combs and David Arthur. The work was done in Shirley's service station, which is now Baldwin Auto Sales. The motor mounts were hand fabricated and a bell-housing adapter was bought from J. C. Whitney so that the Chevy engine would hook up to the Ford transmission. It had dual straight pipe exhaust . Jim Tribble , who lived at Rt 13 and Mill Quarter Rd, always complained about the truck's exhaust waking him up at night. I think the only person that was man-enough( or crazy enough) to run the truck flat out was David Arthur. I know it would run 85mph. The steering was so loose that it was a challenge keeping it between the ditches on a two lane road, but this was David's style. It had vacuum brakes that had to be pumped a number of times before they would hold. It also had vacuum windshield wipers that only worked when you let off the accelerator or was going downhill. The electrical system was converted to 12 volt when the Chevy engine was installed however the 2 Federal Q sirens remained 6 volt...they were deafening but when you used them at night they drew so much current that the headlights went out.. The pump was hand built by Elwood Yates and Bud Wildman and really worked great. It had its own tank fill valve and pressure relief valve. They fabricated a fan-shaped nozzle for the pump for field fires. We called it "The Spreader" and would discharge a fog pattern about 40 feet wide. Another plumbing masterpiece. Each of the water compartments had a screw-off lid but one of the was missing. During the winter the water would slosh out of the top and get on the windshield and freeze. ( No heater). You then had to roll down the window and hang your head out in order to see where you was going.. The radio system was a tube type CB and was monitored during the day by Mr. Boelt at Maxey's Store and Joe Clay Worsham at Plain View Service Station. Elwood had a CB also. The truck was first known as " Unit 2" and then later as "Unit 22". The Rescue Squad used " Unit 10 and Unit 11"

I don't know what ever happened to it.

I'm sure that Bill Boelt could tell a lot more.

The 1965 Mustang in the photo belonged to Junior Member Gary Jenkins.