Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

SAD SEPTEMBER DAY

Photo: Defense Media Network

18th ANNIVERSARY
: ARFF rig at Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 - READ MORE

Monday, September 09, 2019

HONEY BIGGS

The late Honey Biggs is an Arlington County Fire Department legend for his flame dance at an oil refinery fire in Rosslyn.

The following - from the Aug. 1, 1948 edition of the magazine Fire Engineering - tells the Biggs story:


Orchids to Arlington Chief


Volunteer Fire Chief William R. Biggs of the Arlington. Va., Fire Department is credited with helping halt a spectacular oil refinery fire in Rosslyn, Va., by dashing through a 25-foot wall of flame to shut off a gushing jet of blazing oil at its source. According to Battalion Chief G. A. Cole, of the District of Columbia Fire Department, three of whose companies worked with Arlington County fire forces to control the fire, “Chief Bigg’s daring action not only shortened the fire by four hours, but kept the surrounding tanks from burning.”


The fire broke out May 3rd at the Worthington Refining Co., along the bluff of the Potomac River above Key Bridge. A geyser of fire from an open valve sent a huge column of smoke and flame high in the air, destroyed a brick refinery building, and threatened to touch off three huge oil storage tanks, nearby.


Chief Biggs, of Arlington’s Volunteer Fire Department No. 2 who knows the layout, sprinted through the circle of flames while firemen directed hose streams around him. He succeeded in twisting shut a red hot valve that controlled the flow of oil.


The blaze started when an employe went to the 20,000 gallon tank to take a sample of refined oil. When he opened the valve, a jet of oil, heated to 600 deg. F., spurted out and ignited in the air. The worker was seriously burned. The fractioning tank, where the fire started, converted used crank case oil into motor fuel oil. Surrounding it were three storage tanks of like size, which were scorched by the radiated heat.


Firemen worked desperately to prevent extension of fire to these tanks, cooling their surfaces, while at the same time attempting to control the flames in the burning tank. Until Chief Bigg’s desperate dash, these and four other adjacent tanks were in danger of letting go
.

___


Editor's Note
Engine 4 from Clarendon and Engine 3 from Cherrydale were dispatched on the first alarm. Engine 2 from Ballston ran the second alarm. These were the days before Station No. 10 was opened on Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn.

Friday, September 06, 2019

GREEN VERSUS RED

Fort Myer - Engine 61 

Arlington Hall - Engine 66

Arlington County - Truck 74

"It's not easy being green," Kermit the Frog once said.

In the 1970s and 1980s,  many fire departments, such as those at U.S. Army posts in the Washington area, fielded safety lime and safety yellow fire apparatus to improve visibility and cut down on traffic accidents.

Arlington County's were more of a yellow-orange shade.


Scientists had determined human eyes are "most sensitive to greenish-yellow colors under dim conditions, making lime shades easiest to see in low lighting," according to the American Psychological Association.

However, later scientific studies determined "
recognizing the vehicle was more important than paint color" the APA said. "If people in a particular community don't associate the color lime with fire trucks, then yellow-green vehicles may not actually be as conspicuous."

The trend has since shifted back to red, just like Kermit the Frog's Sesame Street neighbor - Elmo.