Sneak Peek at New Cherrydale Fire Station

by Katie Pyzyk July 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm 5,767 72 Comments

Here’s a sneak peek at the new Fire Station No. 3 in Cherrydale.

Previously, the firefighters had to rent space from the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department in the facility two blocks away. The size of the new 14,100 square foot station allowed for the addition of meeting rooms and offices, as well as a significantly larger exercise room and laundry room.

The station provides a more gender-neutral workplace due to the improvements in restroom facilities and dorms. Previously, firefighters had to share a large dorm room and only one restroom. Now, each firefighter gets his or her own dorm room which includes lockers, a changing area and a restroom.

Each dorm room is also equipped with an alarm device above the bed to alert firefighters to a call.  The alarm gradually becomes louder to help reduce shock to firefighters’ systems, instead of the previous alarms which suddenly jolted them awake with a loud tone.

There are fewer fluorescent light fixtures and nearly all of the lighting is LED. This is one of the features making the station more “green” than the previous facility. The lights throughout the station turn red to alert firefighters when a call comes in, and to help them maintain night vision if a call happens during the night.

The public gets a chance to tour the nearly $4.5 million dollar facility at 4100 Old Dominion Drive during the open house this Saturday from 10am-2pm.


  • esmith69

    Glad to see an extensive use of LED lighting. We need that in more of our new buildings.

  • Pancakes

    Ew, I see they are stuck with god awful Comcast cable.

    • MC 703

      New remote? Old box?

  • Cheech

    Gender-neutral workplace? Does that mean no urinals?

    • Heeee

      It means new stand-up poopy potties, called poopinals. Makes chatting to the guy next to you much more awkward.

  • CrystalMikey

    Very nice…ACFD deserves it!

  • brendan

    not opposed to spending money on fire depts… but LED tv’s with leather recliners? i’d love to hear how those are mission critical.

    perhaps the county had some money leftover from the 2,000 sq foot emergency operations center’s designer kitchen? When you buy that much stainless steel and marble they must give you some kind of discount…

    • Bluemont Joe

      Firefighter shifts are 24 hours. They deserve to have some comfort.

      • brendan

        agreed… but this is over the top. far-fancier than any station i’ve been in, where anything close to this was either gifted or purchased by the people at the station.

        • KalashniKEV

          “…where anything close to this was either gifted or purchased by the people at the station.”

          …or stolen from a house that used to be on fire.

          (Hey, it’s insured!)

    • John Fontain

      ” leather recliners? i’d love to hear how those are mission critical.”

      Slim chance they are real leather. Most likely they are “bonded leather” or “bicast leather,” neither of which is really leather at all. Bonded and bicast leather furniture is really a vinyl upholstery product with a trace amount of leather fiber in the backing. Bonded and bicast upholstery (vinyl) is both durable and affordable.

      • Cheech

        No animals were harmed in the construction of this building.

      • Jackflops

        Maybe if they have to put down a bunch of surplus kittens anyway …

        Reduce, reuse, recycle, right?

        • KalashniKEV

          Feed them to the Bums.

    • Bob

      There is no marble in said kitchen, sorry.

      And would you have the county searching Goodwill for a nice gently used cathode ray tv?

      And leather (if it really is leather, and not a synthetic look-alike, will last alot longer than fabric seating)… or perhaps you feel the firefighters deserve nothing more comfortable than a plastic bench perhaps?

      Get real, dude.

  • Rosslynite

    What is the relationship with the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department? I guess I thought they were moving to the new building. Is the Volunteer Department just a landlord for ACFD, or do they provide trucks and firefighters oof their own?

    • ESTSRN8

      Same question – not clear in story. So, now there’s the new station for ACFD professionals AND the old station for the volunteers? Why are there both?

      As a former volunteer firefighter – I’d rather have the pros come to my house.

      • NOVApologist

        The old firehouse was owned by the Cherrydale Volunteer FD but was staffed by both pros and volunteers. My understanding is that the new firehouse will also be staffed by both, but the facility itself will now be owned by the County FD.

      • John Stephens

        The volunteers supplement the career staff, who man the station 24/7/365. The old Station 3 will no longer be an active firehouse. All apparatus at Station 3 is owned by ACFD.

        • Lou

          That old station would make a great Dremo’s.

          • bb

            I think there’s a serious need for phantasm and poltergeist removal services that is completely unmet in Arlington County myself. Dremo’s should look elsewhere…

          • Peter Venkman, Ph.D


    • charlie

      Volunteers are an independent organization.
      they own the old building and have been leasing space to the County.
      not sure what the future holds for the old building, which is an historic landmark.

  • derp

    Hmm. Apparently you can comment on individual pictures, so in an effort to rabble-rouse i’ll repost here. Is the open-flame grille legal under arlington’s fairly strict fire code?

    • Rosslynite

      Are you referring to the propane gill on the deck?

      • derp

        Yes. I’d say that dorm-style facility would qualify for the restrictions detailed in the county’s code and unless they have an automated sprinkler system (possible) on the back deck it is illegal.

        • CW

          Nice catch; I’d like to see an official comment in response to that.

          • John Fontain

            Official Response: Get a life!

          • Rick

            It’s not technically a deck. If you go behind the station its street-level and is on solid ground

          • TGEoA

            Grills on decks are legal. But firefighters are some of the biggest scofflaws around.

          • John Gage

            Citation please

          • charlie

            grills are LEGAL on decks. it is the balconies with roofs that are a probem.

          • Lou

            Decks for houses: legal. Decks for other buildings: not legal. Also, if it is fed by natural gas and is UL approved it is OK. You have to parse through the Fire Prevention Code.

            But as somebody pointed out, this may not fit the definition of a deck.

          • John Stephens

            If you look at the back of the grill, you will see the gas line. It, like the grill at the old station, are fed from the natural gas line.

          • derp

            as Lou says… and i said earlier that a “dorm-style facility would qualify for the restrictions detailed in the county’s code and unless they have an automated sprinkler system (possible) on the back deck it is illegal.”

            as outlined here… http://www.arlnow.com/2011/04/27/arlington-fire-department-warns-of-apartment-grilling-danger/

            and here…

            let me qualify this by saying that I don’t see any problem with it… but if they’re going to go out and enforce a law like this they might want to make sure they’re playing by the same rules.

            from the pictures and descriptions this sounds like it would be considered a deck of a multi-unit dwelling.

        • Nooner

          If you look at the link you provided below under section 308.3.1 there are two very important things to look at in the picture. First, the grill is fueled by natural gas (see exemptions). Second, the grill is not within the noted 15 foot restriction to combustible constriction. The area around the grill, and for that matter, most of the structure is fire resistive construction (concrete and block not wood and lumber). I previously worked for another jurisdiction’s fire department and all of our buildings had to be inspected by the Fire Marshall before an occupancy permit was issued. I can also say that they do not rubber stamp the permit for occupancy. I can think of a specific case in another county where the Fire Marshall held up occupancy due to code issues.

          • Lou

            It’s “or” within 15 feet of combustible construction. Important distinction. Not that it appears to matter in this case. It is allowable only by the natural gas fed exemption. It is most definitely on a rooftop (the flashing in the picture makes that clear). The “or within 15 feet” would not help them since it’s on a roof.

            It’s the natural gas exemption.

          • CW

            I’d never stopped and seen that exemption before now. So you’re telling me that if I hard-plumbed a split line off of the natural gas pipe to my range, ran it through my apartment to my balcony, and attached it to a UL-certified grill, I’d be all set for some high-rise BBQing in the heart of Clarendon?

          • Lou

            That’s the way I would interpret the code.

  • Jackflops

    “The alarm gradually becomes louder to help reduce shock to firefighters’ systems, instead of the previous alarms which suddenly jolted them awake with a loud tone.”

    Don’t we WANT them to be jolted awake as fast as possible, so they can get to the fire as fast as possible? If it starts off soft, won’t that mean a couple of extra secnods till the firefighter is awakened? That can’t be a good idea.

    • Cheech

      I’m surprised there’s not a Starbucks inside.

      • bb

        …but there are two 7-11s inside…

        • Mr. Brown


    • John Fontain

      I was hoping we had an expert on fire and rescue personel awakening systems on this site. I hope you’ll lend your experience and expertise to the County so they get things right.

      • John Gage

        It’s true, you need loudspeakers and loud alarms to get us going.

    • Joe Hoya

      They should have a string quartet on call, to shepherd them to consciousness with a nice minuet.

      • Jackflops

        Conveniently, stringed instruments use … catgut!

        [Cue Elton John]: It’s the circle of life…

        I think it’s right that the station be comfortable. Just hoping the alarms are startling enough to wake a human being who’s not a light sleeper.

      • JammingEcono

        The gradual alarm system likely stems from research out there about the impact of sudden, loud alarms on firefighters’ susceptibility to PTSD and the desire to protect the firefighters from sudden increases in blood pressure (and resultant heart problems).

        PTSD study: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/162/2/283

        Cite: “These results provide initial support for elevated startle response being a vulnerability factor for posttraumatic stress responses.”

        Blood pressure in firefighters study: http://www.everyonegoeshome.com/kits/volume4/CD1/AJH-BPemergencyresponders.pdf

        Cite: “Approximately three-quarters of emergency responders have elevated blood pressure (prehypertension or hypertension), and their prevalence of hypertension is expected to increase. Currently, elevated blood pressure is inadequately controlled among these professions and strongly linked to on-duty cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.”

        My conclusion: If there is negligible impact on overall response time, it makes more sense to invest in a gradual alarm if it reduces the chance the County will have to be paying disability benefits to a firefighter who develops PTSD or heart disease due to the job.

        • Jackflops

          If it saved even one firefighter from PTSD, I’d be totally for it. But if sudden alarms caused PTSD, 99% of us would have PTSD.

          I’m no psychiatrist, but I’d bet their PTSD is caused by, you know–trauma. Rushing into burning buildings and seeing some people die. That kinda thing.

          Any firefighters wanna weigh in?

    • KalashniKEV

      I heard they were originally only going to be allowed two SNOOZE hits per alarm call, but then their Government Employee Union got involved and now they get 5 two minute SNOOZEs…

      • Cheech

        They can opt out of the snooze period and are allowed ten minutes of yoga to calm their heart rate before responding to the call.

    • John Stephens

      Not unless you want your responding firefighter to have a heart attack en route, which is the leading cause of death of firefighters.

      • bobco85

        Perhaps they should replace the grill with a garden. I’m an omnivore myself, but I know that having a nice grill does not usually make for eating healthy meals.

        That said, I much prefer the gradual alarms and think they are much safer for the firefighters’ health in the long-term. Constantly being jolted awake will wear down a person over time.

  • Jack

    What is up with photos on the site now? You could scroll through them before if you clicked on one, now it takes you to a separate page. Much better the old way.

    • bobco85

      Maybe they were having a problem using LightBox (it’s become pretty popular in web design over the past few years) for multiple images (it’s what the site was using before sending you to another page). When you click on the image on the individual page, it loads in LightBox, but also loads the full size image. I hope the problem gets fixed, because I really like this website.

  • Justin Russo

    If you are a homeless firefighter, can you live in your dorm room full-time?

    • John Stephens

      No, your room is shared with the firefighters who work the other shifts.

  • chihuahua

    What the hell is wrong with Ed Peete???!!! Why is he pulling the rug from prospective buyers of 3800 lee hwy and turning them into rentals? Yet again. Do we really need another high priced apartment building? Why is he playing games with people’s lives and plans? Just sell the condos like you originally planned!

    • charlie

      if you were an insurance company or an appraiser helping a client buy a unit in that building — would you insure their or the banks investment? and if you were an appraiser, hired by the bank, what would you do, g iven the history of that building?
      I cannot imagine anyone other than someone who has been under a rock and pays cash being able to finance and insure a unit in there.

    • TGEoA

      They are for sale.

      • Chihuahua

        They are not for sale, we’ve been told. I’d like to know the real story.

        • TGEoA

          Where did you hear that? I’d like to know as well.

          • Chihuahua

            from the Mayhood agent who was selling the property.

          • TGEoA

            Interesting. I wonder how he can rent them out, as the site plan indicates the building is condo. And condos have different rental requirements.

        • Chuck

          They were for sale last week when I went to look at the building.

  • FirePerson

    the department has been using the same alerting system now for a few years in all the other stations. Response times haven’t changed at all. Think of it as being waken up by another person instead of a boat horn. Unnecessary stress on the cardiovascular system, I’d like to actually live long enough to enjoy a decent retirement. As for those complaining about living conditions, consider that we’re @ work for 24 hours, 1/3 of our lives for at least 25 years… Away from home and family. And CVFD owns the OLD building. When you call 911 you get career firefighters. I’m not sure what this “supplementing” is that I keep hearing. If a fire unit is required to have 4 personnel, only 3 are at work, it doesn’t mean a vol ff makes the fourth. They get a detail person from another station, or call someone in for overtime. The new Fire Station 3 has absolutely no connection to CVFD. What’s in the future for the old building is unknown, but is a registered historical building.

    • Jackflops

      Thanks for the info, Fireperson. Glad to know the new alert isn’t the easy-listening radio station slowly fading in.

      Glad you guys have a decent place to live while you’re on call.

  • Eyesofarl

    Whammy!! Firehouse looks great, keep up the great work fire person, shut the mouths of the know it alls who know nothing!!!!

    • AllenB


  • Me

    How many fires do we get in the country these days?

    • Me

      Sorry, meant “county.”

  • RBush

    This story has many factual inaccuracies and needs correction.

    The historic Station 3 owned by the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Dept has had individual bunk rooms since the mid 1980s, when the volunteers raised money to renovate the station so that living arrangements were more gender neutral. THE HISTORIC STATION WAS THE FIRST FIRE STATION IN THE COUNTY TO HAVE INDIVIDUAL BUNK ROOMS. There has been no shared bunkroom for 25 years. The county followed the lead of the volunteers by retrofitting its other stations after that to have individual bunk rooms.

    The historic station was also outfitted by the County with the softer, gentler alerting system some years back. This is nothing new.

    The station overall cost $18 million, not $4.5 million.

    Firefighters hardly had to rent space from the volunteers. From 1940-around 1980, the CVFD provided space for free to the County fire department. Then to help defer the expensive costs of maintaining the station, the county began to pay $50 per month. It wasn’t until the mid 90s that this amount increased to $500 per month, technically to lease only the space where the fire engine sat. The “rent” money never came close to deferring the costs of maintaining this station. TRUTH IS THIS STATION WAS BUILT BY COMMUNITY DONATIONS, AND BEEN KEPT FUNCTIONING BY CONTINUED COMMUNITY SUPPORT. One could guess this has saved the County multiple millions of dollars in the past 90 years.

    The future of the historic station remains to be determined, but there is a good chance it will continue as an active fire station containing emergency support vehicles owned by the CVFD. Or, with the way the County tends to run out of space in its fire stations, it wouldn’t surprise me if the County Fire Dept one day requests permission to place one of its support vehicles in the old station.


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