BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, S.C. — The Batesburg-Leesville Fire Department is preserving history by keeping and take care of a truck they’ve had for over 50 years.
The fire department has been using a 1946 Chevrolet. Jay Hendrix, the fire chief for the Batesburg-Leesville Fire Department, says it served the community until 1984.
“It was originally destined for World War II but before it got shipped overseas, the war ended. They downsized some things and the town of Leesville was able to acquire it and send it to Chicago and refitted into a fire truck,” explained Hendrix.
Since the truck has been retired from duty, it’s been restored in 2013 and 2014 and is now used for parades and funerals of former firefighters.
“Not all fire departments keep their history. We often times will sell the old truck to buy the new truck. It’s a good thing and something we can look back to our forefathers, the fire chiefs in the 1980’s for keeping this truck around and appreciating the history of it,” said Hendrix.
Hendrix is a third-generation firefighter. He can remember when the truck was still in service when his father used to drive it. He says it’s like life has come full-circle watching his son play on the “old truck” like he used to.
“I remember playing on it and it’s neat now my son, who’s 10, sometimes he’ll go climb on the same truck as I climbed on as a kid and rings the bell and does some of the same things that I did. It’s a neat part of our history that we can see generation after generation doing the same thing,” explained Hendrix.
Not too long ago, Hendrix’s father passed away. The truck was used for his funeral. It was also used for his grandfather’s funeral as well. Hendrix is hoping it will one day be used at his funeral one day.
“Some of the guys don’t see the value and the history and joke about getting rid of it, but I’m like, ‘You can’t get rid of part of the family,'” said Hendrix.
Hendrix believes it’s given young people an appreciation of how technology has advanced over the years for fire trucks and to see how far they’ve come.