Veteran Driver of Hampton Fire Department
Norwood Jones, chief engineer of the Hampton, Va., fire department knows where he’s going when he rolls out with No. 1 pumper on alarms for he has been driving fire apparatus in the city the past forty years.
Entering the city’s fire department as a paid driver on Oct. 1, 1900, Jones has since made his home in rooms above the fire station and has witnessed many changes in the department’s equipment and fire fighting methods. On hand for all the major fires in Tidewater Virginia during those years, the veteran has a wealth or interesting fire tales.
The department’s equipment when Jones became engineer back in 1900 consisted of a No. 200, 600 gallon American LaFrance steamer, a one-horse hosereel carrying 1,200 feet and a hand drawn hook and ladder truck.
Jones remodeled the hook and ladder for horses and at one time five horses were stabled in the station. The hose reel was replaced in 1908 by a hose and chemical wagon. First piece of motor| ized equipment, Jones recalls, was an American LaFrance hose and chemical truck delivered on Jan. 1, 1914 and still in use as a reserve piece. The apparatus was also utilized to tow the steamer and the white haired smoke eater has many fond memories of trips over rough country roads with the steamer bouncing along behind,
A few years later he rebuilt the hook and ladder truck, making a tractor trailer of it with an early model Ford furnishing the power. The city purchased its first pumper, an 850 gallon Ahrens Fox, in 1922 and this truck is still in service. Other equipment of the department includes a 500 gallon Seagrave pumper, purchased in 1928, and an Ahrens Fox combination hook and ladder and combination pumper.
Jones’ enthusiasm for his job has not diminished with the passing years and the fire equipment is a splendid example of the infinite care he has taken.
A member of the Virginia State Volunteer Firemen’s association, he once rejected an offer to become chief of the Hampton volunteers, believing his duties as a driver would prevent him from properly filling the post.
Hampton’s population, normally around 6,000, has grown rapidly during the war years with a number of vital industries springing up nearby. Its volunteer fire department, headed by Chief W. S. Renn, has 74 members with 20 now serving in the armed forces. One member was killed in a plane accident in Texas.