Saturday, December 17, 2005

CHIEF FOUGHT 1914-2005

Chief Fought

Retired Battalion Chief James ``Jimmie'' Fought of the Arlington County Fire Department, a founder of the Arlington County Fire Department Historical Society, died at his home in Arlington, Virginia, on Dec. 16, 2005. He was 91.

The chief was a member of a firefighting family. His father served as a sergeant with the District of Columbia Fire Department, and his late son served as a captain in the Arlington County Fire Department.

Fought's career as a firefighter started as a volunteer in the 1930s with the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department and later the Clarendon Volunteer Fire Department.

The county hired Fought as a full-time paid firefighter in 1943 and he advanced through the ranks to become one of the county's first battalion chiefs in 1956.

He spent his career ``on the road'' as he liked to say, supervising fire and rescue operations.

``The fire won't wait for you!'' the quintessential chief would tell his firefighters.

Major Fires

Fought helped supervise firefighting operations at a general-alarm fire in the basement of the Pentagon on July 2, 1959. That fire was listed as among the nation's worst in a book published by the National Fire Protection Association in 1976 to commemorate the bicentennial. A number of firefighters were injured at the 1959 Pentagon fire.

He also supervised the daring rope rescue of a 12-year-old boy who fell into a deep well at a construction site in Rosslyn on June 11, 1959.

Earlier as a fire captain, Fought was in charge of the county's old ``Squad 5’’ that responded to a pair of disasters in Washington on Jan. 15, 1953 - ``Black Thursday'' - the day a runaway Pennsylvania Railroad train plowed into the concourse at Union Station, and a later unrelated explosion at the Standard Tire and Battery Store in Northeast Washington that injured a number of D.C. firemen.

He was also among Arlington firefighters sent to the district for the riots in April 1968.

Active Retirement

Fought, a member of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2800 in Arlington, retired in 1972.

He remained active in firefighting circles until his death and co-founded the Arlington County Fire Department Historical Society with the late Robert ``Cuz'' Carpenter, also a retired battalion chief, in the 1990s.

The chief helped with the compilation of the historical society's ``Red Book,'' a history of the fire and rescue service in Arlington County. He also contributed to the ``Arlington Fire Journal’’ newsletter.

Fought was also an active member of ``The Chowder Club'' and ``The Lunch Bunch'' - social clubs for retired members of the fire department.