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Tuesday, August 30, 2005



On Dec. 21, 2005, the Arlington County Fire Department placed its new Mobile Command Unit in service at Fire Station No. 2 in Ballston. The a 40-foot vehicle is outfitted with state-of-the-art communications equipment, a satellite dish and many other features.

The MCU - purchased with funds provided through the U.S. Justice Department, ``is a critical tool for the fire department during major incidents like 9-11.'' Arlington County Fire Department Chief Jim Schwartz said.

Among the MCU's features are seven workstations, a high resolution mast-top camera, a 1.2-meter satellite antenna, an integrated telephone system with fax capability, a radio system covering the entire Washington area, two slide-out rooms with a 350-horsepower turbocharged diesel engine, a conference room and galley, a 35-kilowatt Power Take-Off generator and a 20-kilowatt diesel generator.


According to Station No. 3's web site:

Effective July 12, 2005 at 0700 hours Quint 104 was officially disbanded. In place of Quint 104 (which ran as one of ten engine companies in the ACFD) Tower 104 was placed in service using the former 2001 E-One 95' platform from Tower 105 (Tower 105 received one of the new 2005 E-One CR-100 aerials) Arlington County now runs 9 Engine Companies, 2 Ladders, 1 Tower and 2 Heavy Rescues.

The closing of Quint 104 will increase the call volume for Engine 103 by several hundred runs a year. We will now be second due into all of the Rosslyn area along with picking up first due in some of Quint 104's area. In Station 4's first due area all medical locals, public service calls, etc. will be handled by Rescue 104. All Northside Engine Companies can look forward to a significant increase in call volume to cover the huge void left by Quint 104 on all fire related incidents. Sleeping all night at Station 3 may be a thing of the past!

Station 4 will now be a "Specialty House" running Tower 104, Rescue 104, Medic 104 the North Battalion and Logistics Coordinator. Station 4 is also part of the Technical Rescue Team along with Station 10.


On July 3, 2005, Arlington County firefighters - from Stations 106, 102, 108 and 103 as well as the Northside battlion chief - provided mutual aid to Fairfax County for a rare four-alarm fire.

Following is a report from

0326hrs 4th Alarm Box 1811 7316 & 7318 Lee Hy--E418 arrived to find a 3 story garden apt with fire on the 3rd floor and thru the roof. A second was quickly called with an EMS task force, the Helo and a 3rd alarm. A 4th alarm was called a few minutes later. One burn PT was located and flown to Medstar. Companies were pulled out of the building and several tower ladders were put to work to knock the fire down. A shelter was opened at the nearby Timber Lane ES as 80 people were displaced. Chief Coffman had the command. A-Shift

0326 1st-E418 430 428 106 TL430 T106 R418 A430 EMS404 EMS402 BC404 DFCO (Coffman)

0332 2nd-E413 408 102 TL408 M106 CAN413 LA207 E207 EMS405 BC402 SAFO

0339 EMS Task Force A428 A413 M408 M102 EMS403 E423

0341 3rd-RE433 410 402 T410 EMS401 BC112

0355 4th-E108 103 401 TL401 BC443

Also-PIO402 HFX1 LAB401 FM18 CHP401 COM410 AFCO CAN408 DFCOC IV02 IV11 IV08 LA437

In another mutal box run to Fairfax County, Arlington County firefighters helped battle a two-alarm fire that leveled a mansion on Crest Lane in McLean on Aug. 17, 2005. NBC4 reported ``someone who lives inside the home has a connection to the United Arab Emirates.'' The Secret Service - charged with protecting diplomatic compounds - was called to the scene.


A baggage handler died in an accident at Reagan National Airport on June 7, 2005, according to news reports. National Airport and Arlington County firefighters responded to the alarm and found a worker pinned between a belt-loader and a US Airways aircraft parked at Gate 23 as the aircraft was being prepared for a flight to Chicago, according to the reports.


Evidence discovered by the Arlington County Fire Department led to the arrest of the man responsible for a two-year arson spree across the Washington area, including fires that killed two elderly women in the District of Columbia.

Thomas A. Sweat, 50, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and other charges June 6, 2005 in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, The Washington Post reported. He was arrested in April.

At the time of the arrest, the Post provided the following account of the investigation:

The biggest break came Dec. 5, when Arlington County firefighters recovered Marine Corps dress pants and a Marine hat near a small deck fire in the 300 block of North Bryant Street.

Capt. Tom Polera of the Arlington Fire Department said the items were found near the scene. The blaze was never reported to the news media, Polera said, because of the little damage it caused and because of the evidence left behind.

ATF officials said they learned about the Arlington fire two days after it occurred. They said they were not convinced it was connected to the serial arsonist but decided to submit the pants to the agency's crime lab for tests.

It wasn't until April 1 that they got the results: DNA from the pants matched DNA recovered from the two earlier fires and attempted arson in Maryland and the District, authorities said.

In a message to the department on April 27, Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz said: ``The lead investigator from ATF (the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) commented to me today that the case progressed in no small part due to the dogged determination of our fire marshals. Congratulations to OFM on a great job.''


On June 1, 2005, a suspicious two-alarm fire gutted the abandoned Duckpin Bowling Center at 400 South Maple Avenue in Falls Church - the same day demolition was scheduled to start to make way for a residential and commercial project.

The fire was reported at about 1 a.m. and the building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, NBC News4 reported. Crews engaged in an ``exterior attack'' and video posted on showed Truck 106's aerial in action. No injuries were reported.

Captain Tom Polera, assistant fire marshal for Arlington County, told News4 that the old bowling alley's interior had been stripped for demolition. Electricity to the building had also been cut, Polera said.

The following equipment was dispatched, according to Fire Station No. 3's web site, :

Engines 106, 428, 418, 108, Trucks 106 and 410, Rescue 418, Medic 106, Battalion 112 and 111, EMS 404 and FM 114

Engines 102, 103, 410, 104, Towers 430 and 408, Light and Air 103

Engine 413, Tower 105