Wednesday, December 03, 2008
On Nov. 10, 2008, President-Elect Barack Obama paid a mysterious visit to Fire Station No. 301 at Reagan National Airport in Arlington after calling on President Bush at the White House.
It later emerged Obama was at the airport authority's firehouse for a secret meeting with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who agreed to remain as defense secretary in Obama's cabinet.
``They pulled the trucks out so that our cars could go in,'' said Gates, quoted by the Los Angeles Times. The Pentagon, like the airport, is located in Arlington County.
According to ABC News:
``Outside of Fire Station 301, there were numerous Secret Service agents, and when Obama returned about an hour later to board his American Airlines jet bound for Chicago, whoever had been meeting with him slipped out a back gate. Now we know.''
Or as CNN noted:
``Washington is full of seemingly obscure places where history is made. Deep Throat's parking garage, the balcony at Ford's Theater. Now you can add the fire station at Reagan National Airport.''
Friday, November 07, 2008
Circus performer Beatrice Kyle - in repose on wheel of steam fire engine at Fort Myer in Arlington - between acts at the Society Circus for the benefit of the Army Relief Fund on April 25, 1924. She is wearing a high driving outfit.
On Sept. 18-19, 2003, Hurricane Isabel downed trees and power lines across Arlington County and the rest of the Washington metropolitan area.
Arlington County firefighters rescued a man trapped in his bed by a falling tree on Military Road. Thousands of homes and businsses went without electrical service for days.
The county issued a press release on Sept. 19 that said: ``Initial assessments include two homes destroyed; 36 homes with major storm damage, 141 with minor storm damage; and 43 cars flattened.''
The Civil Air Patrol provided an aerial assessment of the damage.
Fire Station No. 7 in Fairlington provided drinking water to residents of the Alexandria, where water supplies had been contaminated by the hurricane.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sept. 9, 2008
A plan to augment Arlington County's seven emergency-medical services (EMS) ambulances with an eighth unit for peak times will have to wait until the government's budget situation improves.
Fire officials had hoped to bring the unit into service over the summer, but pulled back the idea due to “serious budget constraints,” Fire Chief James Schwartz said.
The proposed eighth unit, which would have operated weekdays when the system is most overloaded, was not included in the fiscal 2009 budget adopted by the County Board. But, given an increasingly high level of service calls, Schwartz earlier this year tried to find a way to add it.
“I tried to see if it was possible to create the additional unit with existing resources,” Schwartz told the Sun Gazette. “I ultimately determined that it wasn't possible.”
Schwartz cited increasing personnel costs, due to higher-than-anticipated turnover, for his decision to scrap the proposed eighth unit. He said he will wait until the fiscal 2010 budget process to request the new medic unit.
The extra unit has long been sought by some safety advocates and the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association, which represents many firefighters.
They point to “paramedic burnout” and the increasing number of times that the county government runs out of available medic units over the course of the year.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Hall's Hill Volunteer Fire Department
Old Fire Station No. 8
The Hall's Hill Volunteer Fire Department protected Hall's Hill - a historic African-American neighborhood in the northern part of Arlington County.
Hall's Hill is ``situated on land that was an antebellum estate'' and ``a number of current residents are descended from the estate's slave families,'' according to the web site arlingtonarts.org. The residents of Hall's Hill ``endured the era of segregation and the struggle for civil rights,'' the web site said.
Until the early 1960s, the Arlington County Fire Department was also segregated and only black firefighters - paid and volunteer - were assigned to old Station No. 8.
The old station was replaced in 1963 by the current firehouse, which is located adjacent to the site of the old structure.
Read more about Hall's Hill and the book ``Up On The Hill" at:
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Arlington County Fire Station No. 2 - home of Engine 102, Medic 102 and EMS 112 - traces its roots to a volunteer fire company organized in 1904.
According to a history of the Ballston Volunteer Fire Department:
``The first registered agent of the BVFD was Mr. John Ball, a direct descendent of the John Ball who established a farm on land deeded to him by his cousin, George Washington. The farm was located near a crossroads which became known as Balls Crossroads.
``The BVFD first operated out of a garage belonging to one of the members, where the members would assemble when the bell was sounded, to pull the hand-pumped engine to a fire. The bell was located atop a pole alongside the trolley tracks at the intersection of Ballston Avenue and Fairfax Drive.
``In 1921 the permanent station was built on Ballston Avenue. When the County renamed streets and numbered houses the station address became 911 North Stuart Street.
``When Arlington County formally established the Arlington County Fire Department in 1940, the Ballston Fire Station was designated as Arlington County Fire Station No. 2.
``In 1976, the entire block where Fire Station 2 was located became the site for the new Glebe Road" Metro Rail station. At that time, only the BVFD and the Ballston Baptist Church still used the Ballston community name.
``The BVFD's negotiation with Metro and Arlington County provided for the construction of the new Fire Station 2 at 4805 Wilson Boulevard.
``In addition, the BVFD required the changing of the name of the Metro stop from Glebe Road Station to Ballston.''
Friday, July 18, 2008
In 1955, Arlington County issued bonds to finance the construction of fire stations.
Station No. 9, on South Walter Reed Drive, and Station No. 10, in Rosslyn, were the first stations actually owned and operated by the county government. The other stations were owned by volunteer companies.
Station No. 9 opened in 1957 and Station No. 10 opened in 1958.
Today, Station No. 3, in Cherrydale, is the last of the volunteer-owned firehouses in Arlington County.
The late Larry "Sally" Robey at the pump panel at a second alarm on South 8th Street in 1981. The 1977 GMC-Burco was part of a "two-piece" engine company - comprising a wagon and a pump - assigned to Station No. 9 on South Walter Reed Drive.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
PHOTO: Channel 4 News
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
On Feb. 26, 1954, diners abandoned their bacon and eggs just before a natural gas leak triggered an explosion and fire at a Cherrydale restaurant.
Newspaper accounts credited Arlington County firefighter Joe Fetzer - who was eating breakfast at the Rice Bowl Restaurant at 4032 Lee Highway - with evacuating the eatery.
A plumber raised a ladder to a second floor apartment, allowing two men and a woman to escape, according to a service station attendant who witnessed the explosion.
PHOTO: Alexandria Public Library
On Jan. 2, 1929, fire swept the Doniphan Building at 725 King Street in Alexandria's Old Town. Firefighters raised ladders and rescued residents.
The Washington Post said: ``Alexandria experienced its worst fire in years yesterday afternoon in the destruction of the Fairfax apartments, a four-story building at King and Columbus streets in the heart of the business district.''
Damage was estimated at $100,000.
It's likely the Town of Potomac - a section of Arlington County later annexed by the City of Alexandria - sent mutual aid as did Jefferson District, now known as Crystal City. The District of Columbia may have sent assistance, too.
The Potomac Fire Department was organized in 1924. It merged with the Alexandria Fire Department as a result of the annexation, and today its firehouse is the quarters of Alexandria Engine 202.
On July 28, 1962, three Arlington County firefighters were injured in a two-alarm fire at the Spot Tavern.
The midnight fire - the third in less than a month at the tavern - broke out in a basement men’s room of the two-story frame structure, which also housed an apartment and six rented rooms.
Ray Evans, then deputy chief of the Clarendon Volunteer Fire Department, was among those injured and was admitted to Arlington Hospital, according to The Washington Post. A roomer was also injured in the fire.
The Spot Tavern was located at 1200 North Fort Myer Drive.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
PHOTO: Fox 5
On May 27, 2008, Arlington County firefighters recovered the body of a motorcyclist who swerved off a cliff on the George Washington Memorial Parkway about 12 hours earlier.
The body was hidden in brush along the Potomac River. The accident occurred north of Spout Run. A second and unrelated wreck nearby forced the closure of parkway.
PHOTO: Fox 5
Friday, May 23, 2008
``When the Pentagon dials 911, Arlington County answers.''
In May 2o08, Arlington County opened a new Emergency Communications Center for the fire and police departments.
New digital radio system
Arlington is the first jurisdiction in the region to install a digital radio system that adheres to Project 25, a new national standard of public safety interoperability. The new system will enable Arlington’s first responders to better communicate with our regional partners. More 9-1-1 lines – Tripled the number of 9-1-1 lines from 16 to 48 to increase call capacity. Also includes dedicated lines for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls.
14 digital monitors enable ECC to monitor numerous video and data systems, including traffic and security cameras, mapping, and real-time status of utility outages; such inputs are essential for emergency management.
Enhanced emergency management
Arlington ECC is the first in the region to train all its ECC supervisors as sworn emergency managers.
Monitors incidents and activate emergency protocols for events such as winter storms; major power outages; events with substantial first responder presence. Watch Desk Officers also activate the outdoor warning system and 1700AM Arlington emergency radio. Improved work conditions – Created a more comfortable environment to maximize productivity.
- FIRE/EMS COMMUNICATIONS: 800 Mhz trunked
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Review by MICHAEL DOYLE, MODESTO (California) BEE
ARLINGTON, Va. - Remember the Pentagon.
It burned, too, dismembered by the same terrorists who brought down the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center. Circumstances, though, have rendered the Pentagon a Sept. 11 afterthought. It's the place that survived.
At the World Trade Center, 343 New York City firefighters died. At the Pentagon, every firefighter returned home. But not all came back safe and sound. The Arlington County Fire Department subsequently lost 9 percent of its force to health-related retirements.
The FDNY battalions marched into the World Trade Center and were entombed there. The Arlington crews subdued a different beast, smaller but still lethal, and in their victory they've remained largely anonymous.
Six years on, the Arlington firefighters and their compatriots are getting the accounting they deserve.
In "Firefight: Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11," authors Patrick Creed and Rick Newman detail what happen- ed after American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the nation's military command center at 530 mph, killing 189 people, including the 64 people aboard the jet.
The plane hit at 9:37 a.m. It weighed 182,000 pounds, carried a bit less than 11,000 gallons of jet fuel and plowed forward, Creed and Newman write, "like a horizontal volcanic eruption." In eight-tenths of a second, the plane disintegrated. Six- hundred-thousand bolts and rivets blew out as shrapnel. The concussion rattled fire station doors nearly a mile away.
"What the (expletive) was that?" Arlington firefighter Derek Spector exclaimed.
"That was a (expletive) explosion," firefighter Brian Roche replied.
That's how firefighters talk. The way anyone talks when they have been hit in the gut.
Honest reporting prevails
There's a lot that can go awry in a big fire and rescue operation. Competing agencies can't communicate. Turf fights erupt.
Egos intrude. Honest reporting attends to these mishaps.
One example, recounted in "Firefight": An exhausted Arlington crew was resting in the Pentagon courtyard when several District of Columbia firefighters tried to steal the crew's air packs and face pieces.
About such perfidy, only one thing could be said.
"What the (expletive)?" Arlington fire Capt. Brian Spring shouted.
A lot, too, can go wrong in reporting such a story.
Misimpressions can coalesce into convenient anecdotes. The facts can grow soggy with sentiment. The fraternal order of those who were there fends off feelers from those who were not.
"Firefight" seems to get it right, as best I can tell.
Everything gets its proper measure. Mistakes happen, but steadfastness is the enduring virtue. At one point, an ailing firefighter sneaks behind an engine to vomit, knowing that if the medics see him, he'll be yanked off the biggest job of his career.
Technical competence is esteemed. When hulking Truck 105 couldn't fit through a Pentagon tunnel, officers cut the rear tiller cab off with an electric saw. The truncated vehicle squeezed through with two inches to spare.
Good management matters. By Sept. 21, incident commander Jim Schwartz, now the Arlington County fire chief, and his colleagues could relinquish control to the FBI. Arlington's deft crisis management is taught as a case study to Harvard Business School students.
Creed and Newman appear well-suited to capturing this story.
Creed is a volunteer firefighter and Army civil affairs officer.
He's obviously got heart. At one point, after Creed deployed to Iraq, he conducted one evening interview with an Arlington firefighter by satellite phone while his base was under mortar attack.
Newman is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report, a former Pentagon correspondent and the author of another book.
Faithful account of experiences
One of their Arlington sources is Capt. Joe Lightfoot, who once ran the fire station where I've ridden as a volunteer EMT since 2002. Hanging out in Station 2's kitchen, waiting for the emergency tones, Lightfoot and I have talked about, well, whatever: Iwo Jima, say, or Hillary Rodham Clinton's latest melodrama, or Led Zeppelin's personnel dynamics. In time, we also talked about the Pentagon. In every profane and poignant particular, Lightfoot's experiences as I heard them are faithfully recounted in "Firefight." So are many others.
Detail abounds here, and 486 pages may weigh down some readers. Inevitably, the drama that's white-hot at the beginning flags a bit by Day 8 or 9. It's a big story, though, and not just on the surface. It takes space to delve into an event so complicated. It takes space, too, to plumb the heart of a man; a man, say, such as Arlington Battalion Chief Bob Cornwell.
Cornwell fought in Vietnam a generation ago. Five months before Sept. 11, he had a tumor removed. His debilitating chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was barely done when the Pentagon was hit. He easily could have checked out of the fight. Instead, he was running all over the building, weighed down by 45-plus pounds of turnout gear and air pack. When he finally was ordered to rest at the command post, he declined. He'd stay with his men, "Firefight" recounts.
"Doing good, Joey," Cornwell told Lightfoot, as the Pentagon burned and the firefighters worked. "Doing good."
Remember: Steadfastness is a virtue. "Firefight" gives it its due.___
LINK TO FIRE JOURNAL REPORT ON PENTAGON ATTACK:
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Photo: Airport web site
It was a busy night for the Reagan National Airport Fire Department.
On April 3, 2008, a norovirus infection sickened a dozen travelers with nausea as they headed home from a conference in Maryland. The airport fire department - with the assistance of Arlington County paramedics - treated the victims who were apparently infected at the conference.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control:
``Noroviruses are a group of related, single-stranded RNA, nonenveloped viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis. ... People can become infected with the virus in several ways, including eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; having direct contact with another person who is infected.''
Friday, April 04, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
1750 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA 22202
Engine 105, Truck 105 & Medic 105
In 2008, the Arlington County Fire Department opened a new Station No. 5 in Crystal City - the latest in a series of firehouses to protect the community.
The original Company No. 5 was organized on Dec. 17, 1926, when the County Board of Alexandria County - as Arlington was then known - approved the charter of the Jefferson District Volunteer Fire Department.
The original company listed seven firefighters on its rolls and operated from a member’s garage at 206 Frazier Avenue - now 23rd Street South - in Aurora Hills.
In 1928, the volunteers opened a station at 101 Frazier Ave. (With the adoption of a new street naming scheme, the station was addressed 501 South 23rd St.)
During the early years, the members operated a hose wagon, a rescue squad and an ambulance.
In 1940, paid firefighters augmented the volunteers with the creation of the Arlington County Fire Department, and as time went on, the ACFD took over staffing of the engine company and ambulance.
In 1978, the original station was closed and firefighters moved to a station at 1750 South Hayes St., which is also the site of the new firehouse.
A monument stone from the original 1928 station - which was refurbished by Station 5 personnel - was placed at the new station, home of Engine 105, Truck 105 and Medic 105.
-Adapted from Arlington County Fire Department web site
PHOTO: Fire Lt. Jeff Kramer via http://www.acfd3.com/
Box 7602 - April 19, 2008 - 5:37 a.m.
``Units arrived with heavy fire showing from an old balloon frame single family home with extension to the `Delta' exposure,'' according to www.acfd3.com. ``A second alarm assignment and master stream devices brought the fire under control.''
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
The Arlington County Fire Department received assistance from across the nation in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
Among those to answer the call to duty were rescue dog ``Gus'' - and his handler, Ed Apple of Tennessee Urban Search and Rescue Task Force No. 1.
On April 27, 1945, a Page Airways passenger flight crashed at National Airport:
Washington, April 27 -- (AP) -- A transport plane en route from Miami, Fla. to Rochester, N. Y., crashed and burned in taking off at the national airport today killing two persons and injuring a number of others.
A civil aeronautics administration official said the plane, operated by Page Airways, was carrying 13 persons including the pilot and co-pilot.
Coroner's deputies identified the dead as:
MRS. J. WELLAN, of New York City.
RALPH WEISMAN, Forest Hills, Long Island.
Names of the injured were not immediately available.
An officer at the army dispensary at the airport said 11 persons were taken there for treatment.
Airport attaches said the plane was on a chartered flight and had stopped at the airport for fuel.
Monday, March 31, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Alexandria Fire Department participates in the Northern Virginia regional response plan and regularly answers alarms in Arlington County.
The Alexandria Fire Department is critically short of staff and equipment and needs $5.5 million - which Alexandria is ill-equipped to spend - to bring it up to speed, a city-hired consultant has found.
City Manager James Hartmann hired consultant J. Gordon Routley in the wake of an August three-alarm fire at a high-rise condo building on Edsall Road in which three firefighters were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and dehydration and three more were injured.
"Alexandria's increasing population density, commercial activity, traffic and related factors are placing increasing demands on the fire department," Routhley wrote. "The fire department has innovated, reorganized and adapted to make the most efficient use of its resources. The resulting organization is very lean and its resources are stressed to meet normal day-to-day demands."
In February, the state cited the department for procedural failures, including that the first firefighters at Edsall Road fought the fire for one continuous hour instead of in 15-minute shifts as outlined in department procedures, "apparently due to staffing issues."
Routley, a fire investigation expert and former fire chief, details a laundry list of staffing, equipment and procedural issues that contributed to the injuries.
Most significantly, he noted a need for a minimum of four-person staffing on fire trucks instead of Alexandria's three-person minimum - an initiative Arlington County already has phased in. Fairfax and Prince William counties also are trying to add firefighters, but are suffering from budget woes.
Meeting the consultant's recommendation would require hiring 36 new firefighters and would cost the city more than $3 million.
Alexandria, as well as most jurisdictions in the area, is struggling to maintain its current programs in a tight budget year.
The Aug. 25, three-alarm fire at Edsall Road happened at the same time as two other multiple-alarm fires in the area, all of them sparked by thunderstorms.
The high number of incidents was one reason that the first firefighters to respond to the Edsall Road scene were not relieved by backup personnel quickly enough to avoid injury, but inadequate department communication also contributed, Routley said.
The department does not have a command vehicle - a $250,000 specialized vehicle equipped with radios, computers and meeting space.
"An environment that provides multiple radios, telephones, work stations with computer terminals, proper lighting and other enhancements is much more functional than standing at the rear of an SUV in a crowded parking lot," Routley said.
"It's a very sobering report," Vice Mayor Del Pepper said. "I had no idea that we had these needs - we knew some of these things, but certainly not the extent."
Mayor William Euille said the City Council will review the financial impact of the recommendations at April budget meetings.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Photos: Channel 5, Channel 9
On March 13, 2008, the District of Columbia Fire Department requested mutual aid from Arlington County and other suburbs for a fire that swept an apartment building and church.
Firefighters encountered "heavy, heavy fire" at the general alarm in the Mt. Pleasant section of the city, D.C. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin said at a news conference.
Friday, March 07, 2008
On March 7, 2008, a house fire killed an elderly woman in Arlington County and injured a firefighter. According to Channel 4, firefighters ``found the victim in her bed.'' The Washington Post reported the injured firefighter ``fell through the second floor of the structure while battling the blaze.''
Battalion Chief Carol Saulnier, quoted by the Post, said firefighters were called to the 5500 block of South 4th Street at 5:30 a.m. They found two people sitting outside the house with minor injuries who told them a third person was still inside. The elderly woman's body was recovered on the first floor of the dwelling. The firefighter's injuries weren't considered life-threatening.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
of The Connection newspaper
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
On Nov. 28, 1982, tourists visiting Arlington National Cemetery discovered the charred body of a man at the grave of President John F. Kennedy - lying three feet from the eternal flame, The New York Times said. Police determined the man was intoxicated and had been trying to light a cigarette with a rolled newspaper.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Old bell at Station No. 4
By Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Jesus Escobedo is nodding off atop his Batman sheets when the little red lights flip on, casting a low light across his face. A woman's voice informs him gently, almost seductively, that it's time to get up. An alert is going out because an elderly nursing home patient is on the edge of death.
Schwartz said that "response time is everything" in the emergency services business. "If you're in cardiac arrest, you need CPR within four minutes," he said.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Many years ago, Murph - "The Fire Engine Dog" - resided at Old Station No. 2 in Ballston, and we are told that when the bells went off, Murph was the first one to hop on the wagon - even before the firemen.
After one fire call, Murph climbed on the wrong engine and went back to another firehouse. The firemen at the other station knew him, though, and phoned No. 2. ``We have Murph. Come and get him," they said.
There are no active canines in Arlington County firehouses as of this writing.
Photo: Station 28 web site