A reunion for two friends and a fire truck
Denny Martin and Carl Brill went to the Fire Truck Rodeo and Display of New and Antique Firefighting Equipment, part of the Apple Blossom Festival, knowing they would find old fire engines.
The two retired firefighters had no idea that they’d come across one of the vehicles they’d ridden on calls.
“I had heard that there was equipment around,” Brill said. “I didn’t know the ’40 was going to be here. This is a bonus.”
“The ’40,” as Brill called it, is a green and gold 1940 Peter Pirsch fire engine that the Rouss Volunteer Fire Department owned from 1940 until the 1970s.
Both Martin and Brill joined Rouss as volunteer firefighters when they were 16 years old, they said. Martin joined in 1966, while Brill joined in 1967.
As soon and Martin and Brill saw their old fire truck, they stopped and started talking with the owner, Allen Bond.
“We rode this a lot of times to calls and then I was the paid guy at routes for a while and I drove it on calls,” Martin told Bond.
Martin said that he and Brill had taken the truck to the Apple Blossom Festival before.
For Bond, an automotive parts clerk who spends his weekends driving one of his five old trucks to antique truck shows, this was not all that uncommon an occasion.
“Every time I run [this truck] around town, it seems, I run into someone who’s a former member of Rouss,” Bond said. “The stories they tell.”
Bond said that he purchased the Pirsch truck nine years ago from the Old Dominion Historical Fire Society. The Rouss Volunteer Fire Department sold it to Bridgewater, Virginia, Brill estimates, in the mid-1970s. Bridgewater later sold the truck to the Old Dominion Historical Fire Society.
“I got a really good deal on this thing because it needed some work,” Bond told Martin and Brill. “Needed clutch, needed brakes and some stuff. The (fire society) paid for the parts, I paid in labor.”
Since repairing the truck — he even fixed a problem with the vehicle dating back to the days Bond and Martin rode in it — Bond has driven the vehicle across state lines for antique shows.
“I’m not the least bit afraid to take this truck any place,” Bond said. “It’s very dependable. I’ve driven to Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s been to Blacksburg, it’s been to Allentown (Pennsylvania) a couple times. I just get in and go.”
Martin and Brill no longer spend their time fighting fires. Martin hasn’t been on active duty with the Rouss Volunteer Fire Department since around 1997, while Brill said he served with Rouss until 1971. Brill also joined a volunteer fire department in Alaska, where he currently lives, in 1988. He stopped fighting fires around 2008.
Martin and Brill joined the department, they said, because they liked the idea of helping people.
“My big memory was that in , we had a heck of a rainstorm,” Brill said. “I mean, it deluged the Winchester area. And it was the fire departments that were out helping and doing things.”
Brill has family in the area. His daughter lives in Hagerstown, Maryland, and his mother, brother and sister live in Innwood, West Virginia.
“I come down every couple of years I guess to visit,” he said. “I timed it this year. Kind of to be here for the Apple Blossom Festival. “
He added that the last time he was able to attend the festival was 1976 or 1977.
“That’s a long time,” Martin said.
Contact staff writer Max Lee at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org