History 1973 to present
1948 Chevrolet "Chevy" Central Pumper. Picture taken on Delivery Day.
On September 11, 1948 the village of Christiansburg suffered a disastrous fire, which when 1 business was destroyed and 5 families were left homeless. Two days later the mayor called a meeting to form a fire department and replace the outdated 1923 chemical cart. A total of over $4,000 was pledged at that meeting toward the purchase of a fire truck and firehouse. On September 29, 1948 the charter was signed and the organization became known as the Christiansburg Fire Company, Inc. with 37 original members.
A 1948 chassis was purchased from Kirby’s Garage in Conover, Ohio and the fire truck to be built by the Central Fire Truck Co. in St. Louis, Mo. For a total cost of $7,954. The truck carried 500 gallons of water and a 500 gallon per minute pump. In late October the truck arrived and was housed in a local garage until the firehouse was completed in early 1949. The “Chevy”, as it became known as, was the company’s only pumper until 1963 when they purchased a pumper-tanker giving them 2 pumpers to serve the community. Even as the equipment that the department carried increased over the years the Chevy continued to carry the firemen’s boots in the area under the reels, coats hung on the back hand rail and the helmets hung along the sides, this was done until 1973.
The Chevy stayed in service as a front line pumper until 1976 when it was replaced by a 1976 Ford FMC pumper. The Chevy was then used as grass truck when they put a portable pump on top and would draft out of the tank. This method was used until 1980 when the department voted to take the Chevy out of service and use it only for parades. The ’48 Chevy served the company and community for over 32 years, 28 years as a front line pumper, to date no other piece of equipment has served longer than the Chevy.
The Chevy made many, many runs in its 32 years including assisting with 3 major fires, Lena Elevator, St. Paris Elevator and Caven’s Meats in Conover. There were numerous house and barn fires in the area including several large dairy barns. One run that stands out in the minds of those that were members in 1967 was on March 14, 1967 while responding to a fire just west of town, fireman Melvin “Curly” Zerkle suffered a fatal heart attack while driving the ’48 Chevy.
In December 1988 Harold Zerkle, son of Melvin, received the Chevy for Christmas from his family. Today most of the equipment on the truck is original when it was purchased in 1948 or used by the department on the Chevy through the years.
1948 Chevrolet "Chevy" pumper, September 1998. Trent Zerkle is the driver, Sam Sullenberger and Garnard Littlejohn are riding on the back.
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