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President Obama to Visit Fire Station 5 Tomorrow

by ARLnow.com February 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm 4,890 26 Comments

(Updated at 2:20 a.m.) President Obama will visit Arlington’s Fire Station 5 tomorrow morning to discuss a new initiative to help returning military veterans get jobs — including jobs as firefighters and police officers.

Obama and representatives from the International Association of Fire Fighters union will announce the initiative at the closed event, which is expected to begin around 11:00 a.m.

Fire Station 5 is located at 1750 S. Hayes Street in Aurora Highlands, just blocks from Pentagon City mall. Police say drivers should expect road closures and other impacts in the area.

“The event is expected to create moderate traffic disruptions in the Crystal City area from approximately 10:00 a.m. to noon,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “Emergency parking restrictions will be in effect along South Hayes Street to facilitate the presidential visit.”

  • Dum Dum Guy at the Gates of Dawn

    Will they let him slide down the pole?

  • Dum Dum Guy at the Gates of Dawn

    Does anyone else think it is amusing that a small house fire in May of 2010 shows up above as a related post?

    • drax

      …with Guy Fieri.

  • KalashniKEV

    It would really be inspiring if he banned Public Sector Unions and gave all current members 30 days to renounce their memberships or face firing.

    • WOW

      Isn’t it inspiring to know those same returning veterans help protect the rights of any idiot to spout an uninformed and inflammatory opinion? You demonstrate an excellent trolling technique…

    • franky ray

      Why would he deny unions in a right to work state where they already have little to no real power?

  • awh hells bells

    I applaud any initiative fostering future employment of returning veterans. I’m especially pleased that the proposed initiative encourages employment as a firefighter and thus a lifesaver.

    The role of law enforcement officers are vital too and while many of them are fair and do their jobs judiciously, there is a sense of unease knowing former and vetted combat infantryman are wearing the badge of John Q. You might argue this to be myopic, yet I view the nature of a great deal of LEOs to be adversarial with an “us vs. them” mentality.

    Both are vital arms of the community yet I see more honor in saving lives than being an actor of a restrictive state apparatus.

    • KalashniKEV


  • Always Right

    Is this part of the “job creation” project?

  • Maureen

    How about a thread about the paid NON-RESIDENT fire and EMS employees who make all the decisions regarding serving and protecting Arlington residents? Starting with Chief Schwartz, who lives in Alexandria. Bonus points for reporting how the Cherrydale VFD volunteers have been screwed over for decades by paid non-residents and their union.

    • franky ray

      I don’t believe living in Arlington is a requirement for hire. So what is your point exactly? Except for big cities, most do not require you live IN the town/county you work for.

    • TheArlingtonWay

      You are absolutely right Maureen. I think it is a terrible idea that we have these 20 to 40 year old well trained paid Non-RESIDENT members responding to our emergencies. We should let the 80 to 90 year old members that make up the Cherrydale VFD handle them. Stop the madness!

    • Nooner

      Nothing says not qualified to be a Chief like… being the incident commander at the Pentagon. Cherrydale Vols aren’t needed anymore. Do you all even have any members that are qualified to the same level as the career firefighters? Do you even have a engine company? Thanks for playing.

      • Micheal

        When was the last time you were over at Cherrydale VFD? They have an engine, and Suburban, and they have a Light and Air Unit ( that was the main lighting and power source for the Pentagon Incident as well as all major incidents in Arlington and surrounding areas.) Also these guys are as qualified if not more qualified then the career guys. They train all over the state. It is not their fault that the Chief of ACFD will not let them run as a front line engine. I think that is stupid. Why not let them run as a front line engine and keep the wear and tear down on the county vehicles? I have seen these guys at the station doing their own maintenance on the building and on the equipment they have there. That tells me that they want to be a part of the protection of Arlington. I am a resident of Cherrydale and love to see these guys. They are the original fire company in Arlington. The membership is divided with they older folks being for on the admin side i guess you could say and they 20-30 younger members riding their equipment as well as the other Arlington equipment all over the county. Also they do not receive funds from the county, but they support the county and their equipment.

        • realfireman

          Michael, you seem to have a foggy vision that you’re sharing with everyone on this forum. I’ve been with ACFD for several years and can count the number of volunteers who’ve done anything productive in that entire tenure in just 1 hand. Those are the small few who staff a BLS ambulance out of station 2 on Friday and Saturday nights. They have nill fire training, cannot handle the demands required of an “all hands” public safety agency in a major urban environment. Sorry dude, you got it all wrong. The CVFD members you “think” you saw were most definitely the “career” salaried personnel of ACFD who staffed Engine 103 at both the old and now new firehouse. They don’t have an engine, the Falls Church VFD does. They have a “Light and Air” unit, which was useful at the Pentagon, but believe me, the Department of Defense would find a way to bring in generators if they didn’t show up. We appreciate their participation in that matter, but it’s not a critical service. Be grateful for the incredible workforce that comes to work everyday protecting your homes, families, and businesses. Most are driving through better paying jurisdictions with lower housing costs to come here and work for the finest Fire Department, with the most professional and highly trained workforce. Good luck pulling off that level of service with a bunch of weekend warriors who just want to wear a uniform but not get their hands dirty.

        • JJ

          Wow….how uninformed you are! ACFD staffed that fire station for many years and the fire truck you see is an ACFD engine. The light and air unit actually is worked on and staffed by Falls Church volunteers more than anyone associated with Cherrydale. All these young men and women you speak so highly of are actually Arlington professional firefighters. Oh the irony. I bet you feel pretty silly now donating your hard earned funds to an outdated organization that provides little to no services. I do believe the CVFD just bought a pool table though.

          • Micheal

            Actually they are there working on their station because as i have heard the career guys left it and tore everything out of it. They are fixing it so that i can be a functioning station again. The men and women that i speak of have been there working on the station since the career guys have moved out. So it is not ACFD personnel its CVFD. I have talked to the Chief there and they have alot of recruits going through there training program so that they can ride. From talking to the guys there and to other people it seems like they have more qualifications then some of the career guys. Light and air unit is only housed at falls church because it will not fit in the old cherrydale station.

            On a closing note. I donated that pool table to them, they did not buy it.

          • JJ

            They DO NOT have more training than the career guys. Their roles within Arlington are non-existent. They are allowing someone who owns an old pumper to store it there and I’m sure they are charging rent for the space. Even if there are “a lot of recruits” which I highly doubt, they will rarely if ever step foot on a fire truck that actually responds to calls. 99% of all volunteers in Arlington have NEVER been in a real fire. You can take all the classes you want and get all the certifications you want, but if you have no experience I don’t want you showing up at my house.

  • Allthatglittersisnotgold

    First, the fire and police unions in Arlington have no power…as we know VA is a right to work state. And second, have you ever wondered why the majority of public safety employees are non residents? The low salaries and the meddling by the board to their benefits might have something to do with it. While their pay isnt completely horrific…it just goes to show what Arlington has become…a place for the wealthy and the very poor. The gentrification of the county is a well covered topic on this site…the cops,firemen,and emts have left along with the construction workers,mechanics, and tradesmen.

  • KalashniKEV

    I still don’t get this. I completed ACAP 3 years ago and they had reps from local PDs and FDs as well as NYPD and other big cities. How is this “initiative” any different than what has already been taking place for years?

  • Micheal

    I am not a member of Cherrydale VFD, but i know many of the Firefighters that are there and have seen the big transition that has gone on since the New Fire station has opened. It is ashame that they county has seemed to forgotten the Cherrydale VFD. It is the oldest and Original Fire station in the county. If you ever go to any of the events they have there you will notice that they have a much, much, much younger staff in there then the older 80 to 90- year old members. I live in the Cherrydale neighborhood and wish that the Arlington Fire Department would use the cherrydale VFD in a better manner then just support. I think the tax payers of Arlington are not seeing all of the resources used to help the community.

    • TheArlingtonWay

      Wrong! The engine that you speak of is an Arlington County Rig that is staffed by career personal (the people you see working on the station). They were housed in the Cherrydale VFD building until a few months ago when the new county station was built. The suburban is used to deliver career staff mail. Finally, even thought the light and air unit says Cherrydale VFD, it has been run by the Falls Church volunteers forever. Try again….

      • Micheal

        Wrong! when was the last time you actually drove by the station. They have and engine and their light and air truck on the side. The engine is peak of is not the engine that is up at the new station. the people working there are not career staff, they are way nicer. The light and air unit is housed at falls church because it is to big for the Cherrydale station. So the FC vols and the Cherrydale Vols all staff the unit. Thanks.,..try again!!

  • Jenny

    I happen to live across the street from the fire station on S. Hayes Street. Due to Obama’s visit (which wasn’t announced to residents), they took the initiative to “relocate” everyone’s car to streets elsewhere in the city – and not tell anyone about it! Good grief, let the management company of the housing complex know so they can alert residents to move their cars or slip notes into people’s mailboxes! How about putting up emergency parking restriction signs up a couple days ahead of time?

    I can see a lot of unhappy residents returning home tonight to find their cars missing!

  • Emily

    The point of his visit aside, just learned from my teleworking roommate that all the residential cars along the street were gone. Come to find out from the police they were relocated to other parts of Arlington to facilitate his visit. This includes my vehicle. This was all without warning and completely ridiculous.

  • Reade

    Okay, let’s be fair and set the story straight here.
    I will post my name and email, and if anyone has questions about my post, they know how to ask me.

    First and foremost, Arlington County fire stations, including Cherrydale, are staffed by full time career staff. The volunteers are supplemental personnel. Some volunteers have less training that career firefighters, some have more. For instance, I was a medic and FF III while some of the career personnel I ran calls with were basic EMTs and FF III. All personnel are trained to the NFPA and VA Dept of Health/DOT standards. Paid firefighters often have better experience than volunteers, because of the volume of calls they run. But there exist dedicated volunteers, too, who have served many years, and have extensive experience and training, in some cases more than less some paid members. I know of paid firefighters who would say they would trust a particular volunteer more than a paid member to back them up; and likewise, I know volunteers who would say they would trust a particular paid member more than another volunteer. And I can recall a major highrise fire in Clarendon around 1989 when volunteers rescued a career firefighter who was in a perilous situation.

    The Cherrydale VFD has a Utility (suburban) and Light and Air Unit. For years, the Cherrydale Volunteers, like myself, ran LA103 with little assistance from other volunteer companies (basically from 1987-2004). In recent years, Cherrydale experienced a drop off in volunteers and the vols from Falls Church helped staff the Light and Air Unit a lot. It’s not uncommon for a vol company to assist another vol company, just like it’s not uncommon for paid staff to be detailed from one station to another to assist at a station that is short staffed. Everyone is here to help with life safety.

    The Engine at Cherrydale (at the old station and now new station) is county owned, and staffed by career personnel. Volunteers used to ride as a fourth or fifth firefighter frequently, until about 10 years ago when Cherrydale experienced a drop in volunteer participation (for reasons I will lay out below). Today, there is a resurgence of volunteers at Cherrydale. Many are just going through training now.

    It became more difficult for the Cherrydale volunteers to run LA103 when it was booted out of Station 8 by the county, and left to sit outside on the back ramp and rust. Fortunately, the vols at Falls Church gave the truck a place in their station. And they stepped up to help run calls with the truck. I should mention that the ACFD made an agreement with Cherrydale VFD when the Light Unit was purchased in 1987 to provide an apparatus bay for it. They told us, “You buy it, we will house it.” But as time went on, the county booted the truck outside with no apologies. Many volunteers at Cherrydale felt this was a slap in the face by the County fire dept, and this (among other issues) led to some volunteers quitting.

    It is particularly frustrating that the county would boot the Light and Air Unit out of a station when you consider that the CVFD housed the County’s fire engines in the the Cherrydale Vol fire station (the historic station that is) for 60 years. The county was asked only to provide $50 a month to help maintain the station. In 1995, this increased to $500 per month… what a bargain. In other words, the County was given a station for virtually nothing for over 60 years. The CVFD tried its best to make the station nice. Volunteers, with the assistance of some paid staff, remodeled the station in the mid 1980s and made the first “individual” bunk rooms in the entire county. It was an older station, had a lot of character. In recent years, the station needed improvements again. The paid staff never “trashed it.”

    The reality of the fire service today in a place as urban and busy as Arlington is there is a need for both paid and volunteer personnel, just like in the military there is a need for active duty and reservists. There are times when the county gets so backlogged with calls that there are no units to run emergencies – so busy region wide that we can’t rely on Fairfax or Alexandria to help out. I can recall in my time running many calls during summer and winter storms, and even getting leaving home (often 1-2 times a week) to place the volunteer ambulance in service, because the county had EMS calls and no ambulances available. There was a really bad storm in 1999 when the county had 85 fire/EMS emergency calls pending at once. As a volunteer, I remember the 911 center giving us a list of 8 calls (including 2 medical emergencies) to run, because the county had ZERO paid staff units available.

    I can’t even begin to county the number of calls I ran over the years when the County was TOTALLY OUT of equipment and personnel to run calls. It was easily several hundred calls. I recall another incident where I ran a medical call near Fire Station 8 because the nearest unit was coming from Alexandria company 53. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a LONG LONG way. I also recall running ambulance calls when the county was trying to get an ambulance from as far away as Reston. Fortunately, the county has added more paid medic units in recent years, but this doesn’t mean there are never shortages. They still exist.

    I can also recall the County fire department commandeering our volunteer ambulance and volunteer utility vehicle on Sept 11. Ironically, this was just weeks after former County Fire Chief Plaugher had told the CVFD officers that “volunteers are not needed in this county.” Hmmmm……

    I served for 15 years in the Cherrydale VFD. I co-founded the volunteer BLS ambulance. For years, i would usually lose 2 nights of sleep per week running fire and public service calls with Light and Air 73. It was a unit that played a much more integral role in response until the ACFD Chiefs decided to stop dispatching the unit except on 2nd alarm fires. I recall paid firefighters, who loved our help at fires (particularly with all the overhaul we helped with), saying, “How come you all don’t come to fires any more??” And I would reply, “The top brass removed us from being dispatched.”

    Unfortunately, the top brass of the department, over the years, made Arlington an unpleasant place to volunteer. I am saying this to point out that it’s hard to recruit and retain volunteers when the county fire dept’s top brass makes volunteering unpleasant. Besides renegging on the agreement with housing Light and Air 103 (as noted above), the county’s top brass did the same thing with the volunteer ambulance. I found it particularly funny that, after booting the volunteer ambulance (which Chief Plaugher had promised to house in a station) out of the station on multiple incidents under Plaugher’s reign, the County ran out of ambulances and tried to put the volunteer ambulance in service with paid staff, only to find the battery was dead. You can run a call with dead batteries, and an ambulance can’t stay charged if it is parked outside without a shore line. This happened not once, but 4 times.

    The county fire department’s top brass also made it unpleasant to volunteer for many other reasons. They decided they county fire dept’s budget could no longer afford to contribute $12,000 per year toward the cost of the volunteer’s injury insurance, which the volunteers paid an additional $25,000 per year for. At a time when Arlington’s budget was pushing $1 billion dollars and the fire department was getting all new vehicles, I mean really, they couldn’t afford to help cover the cost of insurance for volunteers in case of injury on an emergency call? UNBELIEVABLE. The message was clear from the County Fire Dept: we don’t care if you get injured. Amidst all this, I did mouth to mouth resuscitation on the County Board Chair in front the entire County Board and County Manager. It finally occurred to me that, if I was willing to take on risks to help others, why the hell couldn’t this county cough up $12,000 a year?? Especially considering the virtually FREE fire station the CVFD was providing to the County in Cherrydale.

    I could go on and on.

    But the bottom line is this: the ACFD is more committed to investing in the CERT program than they ever have been to the volunteer firefighters and EMTs.

    Again, I can’t emphasize enough that this department needs both paid and volunteer personnel to offer the best level of protection to the citizens of Arlington. It’s no different than the active duty military needing reservists at times to augment their services. There will never have a good strong cadre of volunteers in the county until the County management and fire dept top brass decide to actually support and invest in making the volunteer program more viable.


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