The Mack is back: Fire Chief claims a piece of town history

Marblehead Fire Chief Jason Gilliland holds a photo of the Mac fire truck when it was stationed at Engine 2 on Franklin St. in Marblehead. Photo by Libby O'Neill

A 1940 Mack fire truck has found its way back to its home town.

On Jan. 22, Marblehead Fire Chief Jason R. Gilliland drove up to Sunapee, N.H. to reclaim the 83-year-old truck that was originally stationed at Engine 2 on Franklin Street.

The truck was ordered in 1939, and came to the Marblehead Fire Department a year later. It was in use for 35 years before it was auctioned off in 1975 to a town resident, Gilliland noted.

After the truck was auctioned, it left town and as the years went on, it became harder to trace where the truck ended up.

But right around New Year’s Day 2023, Gilliland received a call from a man in Sunapee who told him that he had something he might be interested in.

“He said ‘Hey we have something of yours,’ and I go ‘What could you possibly have of mine?’” Gilliland said.

The man continued on to say that he indeed was in possession of the truck and was looking to sell it, which was music to Gilliland’s ears, as he had been looking for a vintage fire truck to purchase.

“I’ve been looking for a truck for a while, I mean what firefighter doesn’t want their own fire truck?” he said with a smile.

Of course every firefighter wants their own fire truck, but having one that was stationed in Marblehead makes it all the more special for Gilliland.

“The significance of buying that one and not any other truck was because it was here. It’s cool to bring something back that was in Marblehead.”

The truck was owned by the Firefighters Association in Sunapee, so Gilliland had to wait for them to determine the value of the vehicle.

They came back with an offer that he couldn’t pass up: $1,000.

So after renting a semi truck with a flatbed, Gilliland and his two sons made the two hour trip up to Sunapee to reclaim a piece of Marblehead history.

The truck came in great condition. Every piece of the truck is still there except for the belt, the engine still runs, the signature chrome Mack Bulldog on the front of the hood is still intact, and even after eight decades, every single piece of original paperwork is still with the truck.

Though it’s in fantastic shape, there is a good amount of work that Gilliland is going to put into it, including re-chroming the front and back of the truck, and redoing the paint job, which faded over the years. He says he plans to start the process in roughly a month and wants to include it in the town’s Christmas Parade later this year.

As for now, once the restoration process is complete, he wants to take it for a spin as soon as possible.

“It grows on you, it’s going to be a fun project,” he said.