Members of the Arlington County Fire Department blocked off the parking lot to the Arlington Historical Museum in Aurora Hills and climbed to the top of the Hume School on Tuesday morning. There was no emergency, the firefighters simply helped to fix the old school’s bell.
The bell functioned as a call to school children from 1891 until 1956. More recently, visitors to the museum could ring the bell. That is, until the rope broke when a visitor pulled it a little too enthusiastically.
“We encourage all visitors, particularly kids, to ring the bell when they’re visiting the museum. It’s just great to hear that sound and it’s been silent for months because the rope broke,” Arlington Historical Society President John Richardson said. “We think somebody was very eager and just broke it.”
Truck 105 from the Crystal City station used its 100 foot ladder to access the bell tower, which is nearly unreachable without special equipment. Richardson said he and an assistant previously had tried to access the bell to fix the rope, but it was too dangerous.
“It’s very difficult to get up to the bell tower safely,” said Richardson. “You can’t get up that sloping roof.”
It was going to be expensive to hire someone to bring out equipment to access the bell so instead, Richardson contacted ACFD Chief Jim Schwartz to see if the department could help out.
“We’re the only ones that have a ladder long enough to reach up there and put the rope back on for them,” said Capt. Chuck Kramaric of Station No. 5.
After one of the firefighters climbed into the tower to make repairs, the whole crew went inside the old schoolhouse to test out the new rope. They took turns ringing the bell, while Richardson expressed his thanks for their work.
“We love the ACFD,” Richardson said. “They’re really great.”