The Mathews Volunteer Fire Department Incorporated is the outgrowth of the former Mathews Fire Protection Association. As far back as 1921, interest was shown by some concerned citizens to establish some type of fire protection for the courthouse area.
After several disastrous fires in the business district at the courthouse, the Mathews Fire Protection Association was formed. Their first piece of equipment was a hand-drawn, two wheeled cart with two small soda and acid tanks with a small hose. In 1937, the association purchased a 1929 model Chevrolet truck. It was equipped with two large soda and acid tanks and hose. It was to be used primarily to protect the courthouse area. Charges were made for calls outside of the courthouse area. That same year, the first firehouse was built on the same site as the current Mathews station.
In 1946, a few civic minded individuals banded together to form the Mathews Volunteer Fire Department. They continued to use the soda and acid truck until 1948. In 1948, a drive was held to solicit funds from the citizens of Mathews in an effort to purchase an up-to-date fire truck, which would be used to furnish fire protection for the entire county.
A 1948 Chevrolet truck was ordered and delivered in January 1949. This truck was equipped with a pump, water tank, hose, and ladders. The fund drive had not provided sufficient funds to pay for the truck, so for the next several years, the firemen held carnivals and bingo games to complete the purchase of the truck. An addition was made on the Mathews firehouse in preparation for the new fire truck. All work was done with volunteer labor and donated materials.
In 1949, a group of volunteers setup a fire station at Bohannon (Station 2). The station was built with volunteer labor and donated materials on land loaned to the fire department by J. A. Clements. When the station was completed, the 1929 soda and acid truck was stationed at Bohannon.
In 1951, a used 1945 Ford truck chassis was purchased. W.R. Brewer, with volunteer help, installed a pump, tank, hose reels, ladder racks and built a body. This truck was put into service at Bohannon to replace the old soda and acid truck which had long since become obsolete.
Additional fire protection for the county was added in 1956 when a new International truck fully equipped was purchased for the Mathews Station (Station 1). The 1948 Chevrolet was moved to the Bohannon Station and a new station was organized on Gwynn’s Island (Station 3). The Ford truck from Bohannon was moved to Gwynn’s Island and housed in a building owned by the Gwynn’s Island Civic League.
The Mathews station was enlarged for the second time in 1957 and a surplus Willis Jeep with four-wheel drive was purchased. It was equipped by the Virginia Forest Service with a water tank, hose, and pump. It proved to be an in-valuable aid in the suppression of field and woods fires.
A new fully equipped Ford truck was purchased in 1962 for use at the Gwynn’s Island Station.
The department expended for the third time in 1964. A new Chevrolet truck was purchased for the Bohannon station. In addition, a new station was started at Cobbs Creek (Station 4). Again with volunteer labor and donated materials, a fire station was erected on land donated to the department by Thomas M. Brooks. Initially, the old 1945 Ford truck was moved to Cobbs Creek from Gwynn’s Island, but the old Ford was showing the strain of too many miles and too many fires and was soon retired. Subsequently, the 1948 Chevrolet was transferred from Bohannon to Cobbs Creek.
The Mathews Volunteer Fire Department was incorporated in 1965. The next major purchase came in 1970 when a new fully equipped Chevrolet truck was ordered for the Mathews station. This truck replaced an old tank truck that had seen its best days. Also in 1970, a large basin was dug in Put-In Creek near the Mathews station to insure an adequate water supply in the event of a large fire in the courthouse area. Charles M. Wroten, Jr., of North furnished the drag line and Lansing L. Fulcher, also of North, did the work at no cost to the fire department. Later, Fleet Foster and Richard Callis of Richfleet Construction Company at Cobbs Creek donated materials and labor to build a pier out to the basin.
In an effort to provide better fire protection for the county, a new fully equipped International truck was delivered to the Mathews station in 1971 and the 1970 Chevrolet was moved to Cobbs Creek to replace the 1948 Chevrolet. In 1971, radios were installed, for the first time, in each of the trucks with a base station at the Mathews station.
A two story, four truck bay, Mathews station was built in 1975 with the volunteers providing hundreds of hours of labor to finish the building and hold down cost. A new Chevrolet pumper was purchased in 1979 to replace the 1956 International at the Mathews station.
In 1985, volunteers in the New Point area of the county organized to build a fire station at the site of the old New Point School. The New Point Station (Station 5) was opened in April of 1986 with a used 1969 Ford pumper purchased from Sterling Park, Va. Also in 1986, a new two bay fire station was dedicated in Bohannon to replace the single bay station built in 1949. In 1988, a Pierce pumper on a Ford chassis was purchased to replace the 1971 International assigned to the Mathews station.
In 1994, the department purchased three new Pierce pumpers to replace aging trucks at Bohannon, Cobbs Creek, and New Point stations. These pumpers were equipped with 1000 gallon per minute pumps and 1000 gallon water tanks. A new Pierce pumper was purchased for the Mathews station in 1998.
The department purchased a new Pierce pumper in 2001 to replace the 1962 Ford pumper at the Gwynn’s Island station. The department purchased the Gwynn’s Island Civic League building, used as the Gwynn’s Island fire station, and a new two bay station was erected on that site in 2002. The next apparatus purchase was a 2004 Pierce utility truck out fitted with rescue tools, breathing air cascade system, and salvage equipment. In 2007, the department saw a need to improve its brush fire response capabilities and purchased a 4 wheel drive Pierce “mini” pumper with a Class A foam system, a first for the department, and in 2008, a Jeep was purchased and equipped with a water tank, hose and Class A foam system. In 2011, a new, Pierce pumper was assigned to the Mathew station.
The department opened a new three bay station at Cobbs Creek in 2014 and in 2015 a new Pierce pumper was put in service at Cobbs Creek. The 1989 Pierce pumper was sold and a 1994 Pierce pumper was moved to reserve status.