Several of the original firefighters of Arlington’s Fire Station 8 were glad to see that the Arlington County Board abandoned a plan to relocate the station, instead voting in favor of rebuilding it on its current site.
Fire Station 8 was the only station in segregated Arlington with black firefighters during the 1950s and 60s. Those firefighters had to work hard just to keep the station running — due to a lack of county funding, they would hold cookouts to raise funds for equipment.
“The community got together, and they sold dinners, fish dinners, chili dinners, chicken dinners, and… they made enough money to buy all the materials and things for a barracks,” recalled Marguarite Gooden, a local resident.
After working on a volunteer basis for years, Captain Hartman Reed and Firefighter Carl Cooper were two of the first three firefighters at Station 8 to receive pay for their work, starting in the early 1950s. (White Arlington firefighters started receiving salaries about a decade earlier.)
Reed and Cooper still live in Arlington, right behind the fire station. They spoke to ARLnow.com about their thoughts on the station’s relocation.
“I just thought, well, it was very wrong about trying to move it out,” Cooper said. “If anything, they should enlarge it and let it remain here.”
In 2014, the fire chief recommended — based on a 2012 consultant’s report — that Fire Station 8 be moved north of its current location to reduce response times for the northern communities. A county-owned parcel of land near Marymount University seemed like a prime candidate.
Captain Reed found that recommendation a little odd, especially given that there was more population density — and thus, more calls — along Lee Highway.
“I recall when I was in Station 8, how few calls we ran up into that [northern] area, and the difference in the calls we ran,” Reed said. “I don’t think the fire department could prove, even though it was a longer run, that they were needed more in that northern area, then they were in the Lee Highway corridor.”
Reed theorized that one of the underlying reasons for the move may have been a desire to place low income housing on the current fire station site. Cooper said he thought “maybe they wanted to get it away from this community” due to some sort of prejudice.
The recommendation to move the station was met with much resistance from both the historically black community surrounding the station’s current site and the community surrounding the stations’s proposed new location.
Kitty Clark Stevenson, the daughter of Alfred Clark — another one of the first paid firefighters at Station 8 — explained that the community felt they were included in the process only after a top-level decision had already seemingly been made.
“We were not respected as a community by the leadership in this county government, which for us was a violation of the Arlington Way,” she said.
Gooden, who is Captain Reed’s daughter, also found that upsetting.
“The thing that outraged me was… we weren’t engaged in the conversation at all,” she said.
After numerous county meetings and the creation of a task force, the county finally decided against relocating the station. Instead, the existing station will be knocked down and a new, larger Fire Station 8 will be built on its current site, which many in the community describe as historic.
“I was excited to hear that it would… remain where it is,” Cooper said. “Very much elated,” Reed agreed.
Gooden was also pleased that the building was being redone.
“I’m excited about them getting the best, the best technology, the best facility,” she said. “And they will better be able to serve the dynamic, very densely populated Arlington.”
Throughout the month of August, the Arlington County Fire Department will be holding a donation drive for pet supplies.
Items on the shelter’s need list include canned pet food, collars, toys, and office supplies. AWLA has requested no Milk Bones, boxed hard treats or handmade items.
The items can be dropped off at the following fire stations:
- Fire Station 2 at 4805 Wilson Blvd
- Fire Station 3 at 4100 Old Dominion Drive
- Fire Station 5 at 1750 S Hayes Street
- Fire Station 6 at 6950 Little Falls Road
- Fire Station 7 at 3116 S. Abingdon Street
- Fire Station 9 at 1900 S. Walter Reed Drive
Donation bins will be in the lobby of each fire station and items can be dropped off from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Donations collected before August 27 will be presented to the AWLA at its Wags n Whiskers event in Shirlington however donations will be collected until August 31.
Photo Courtesy of ACFD
Update at 6:55 p.m. — The leak has been stopped and ACFD units have now left the scene.
Arlington County firefighters are on the scene of a major gas leak in the Virginia Square area.
Initial reports suggest that construction crews at the Latitude Apartments site, on the 3600 block of Fairfax Drive, across from the Metro station, hit and severed a three-inch gas line.
Police were called to the scene to block traffic around the gas leak.
(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) A construction vehicle is currently draped with downed power lines near Virginia Square.
The incident occurred shortly before noon at 3700 6th Road N. as the truck was being hauled through the Ashton Heights neighborhood.
Firefighters and police were called to the scene and currently have the sidewalk and the road closed for safety, as the lines were believed to be live electrical lines.
No injures were reported, but at least one neighboring home was reportedly damaged.
— William Ponds (@wponds) July 26, 2016
Update at 8:15 p.m. — “We traced the discoloration to an active construction site, which is the likely source,” said Arlington DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “A light-colored sediment had discharged from the site and into the storm drain system.”
Why did this stretch of Four Mile Run turn yellow?
That’s a question officials with Arlington County’s Dept. of Environmental Services are trying to answer.
The Arlington County Fire Department was called to investigate a yellow substance in a portion of the stream behind The Brittany condominium complex at 4500 S Four Mile Run Drive around 2:35 p.m. this afternoon.
Though the firefighters concluded the mysterious discoloration is not hazardous, the substance has county officials scratching their heads.
“We don’t know how long it had been there,” said DES staffer Mark Wisdom. “We can’t make a determination until we can find the source.”
Wisdom said he planned to search for discarded paint cans or other substances near the creek.
Photos and additional reporting by Lindsay Smith
The 4-1 decision was made as part of the Board’s deliberation on the adoption of the county’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which includes the replacement of Fire Station 8.
The sole dissenter in yesterday’s vote was County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who argued that building the station on 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive near Marymount University would serve more residents by reducing the amount of time it would take for the fire department to respond to calls north of Lee Highway.
Garvey’s argument mirrored what supporters of the relocation have said in the plan’s defense.
“Far and away the most important criteria about where we site the fire station is getting as many people as possible that can be reached as quickly as possible in an emergency,” Garvey said. “If we move it further north, we can get more people we can reach in time in an emergency. It really may mean life and death.”
Other board members, such as Christian Dorsey argued that the current location, along busy Lee Highway, better serves the needs of the majority of calls to the fire department than a lower density location like 26th Street.
“It’s pretty clear that we should keep the fire station at its current location in order to meet people where they actually are, recognizing that the greatest number of calls required of our fire and EMS crews is to help people with EMS distress,” Dorsey explained. “It’s a crapshoot. There’s no way we can guarantee what’s going to happen in the future but if I’m going to have to make an allocation based on our best judgment and best data, it’s got to be where people are… versus static residences that are only used for a certain portion of the day.”
Board member John Vihstadt pointed to future development in the area as reasons to keep the fire station at its current location.
“We just approved a large new Ballston corridor development, which is serviced by the station closest to it, Fire Station 2 at George Mason and Wilson Blvd,” he said. “Fire stations south of Fire Station 8 are going to be increasingly called upon to deal with the increased density that is looming in our future.”
Vihstadt also said the location of Virginia Hospital Center played into his decision. “Why would we degrade service for so many to marginally improve service for a much fewer number?” he concluded.
Further planning on the new station will begin next year. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019, according to a press release from Arlington County. While the construction is underway, the fire department will operate from an interim station for two years at a location that has not yet been determined, officials said.
The Board directed the County Manager to determine possible locations and expected costs for the temporary fire station by the end of 2016. The added costs of keeping the station on Lee Highway are expected to total several million dollars.
The new fire station will be ready for operations in spring 2021, according to county officials.
A car slammed through the front of the 7-Eleven store at 3901 Lee Highway in Cherrydale Friday night.
The crash happened just before 10 p.m. No injuries were reported.
This morning the large plate glass window shattered by the car was boarded up, awaiting replacement.
— John (@JohnVasapoli) July 16, 2016
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 16, 2016
The Arlington Food Assistance Center is looking for volunteers to help with everything from bagging to food drives and more. Teens above the age of 14 (or under 14 with parental supervision) are welcome to help out.
If you are at least 13, you and a parent can volunteer at So Others Might Eat in D.C. This organization runs food drives and dining rooms that provide food to the homeless.
Arlington Science Focus School needs help shelving books in the library from July 11 until August 12. This can include working a single day from 8:30-11:30 a.m., or signing up for more than one day of work.
The Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department needs both administrative assistants and firefighters or EMTs. For those who lack the stomach or physical ability to participate in emergency operations, working as an administrative member entails record keeping, fund raising, and other support functions. For those who live for excitement, being an operational volunteer means being prepared to put out fires and save lives.
Back on My Feet, a nonprofit that’s fighting homelessness through running, is co-sponsoring the Crystal City Twilighter 5K race on Saturday, July 23. Volunteers are needed to help with the bag drop and to man water stops along the course.
The Playtime Project needs volunteers to play games, read books, and create art projects with homeless children while their mothers participate in skills workshops. Volunteers must make a two hour weekly commitment for at least six months.
D.C. Central Kitchen needs volunteers to help turn 3,000 pounds of food each day into 5,000 balanced meals for homeless residents of the District.
Every Saturday and Sunday, the Arlington-based Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation needs dog and cat handlers for adoption events. More volunteer opportunities are available through Lost Dog as well.
There are also some positions that require volunteers be at least 21 years old.
This includes being a CrisisLink Hotline volunteer, a job which requires empathy and a commitment of 50 hours of training and 150 hours of service. Volunteers can earn college credit and receive letters of recommendation.
More volunteer opportunities can be found through the Volunteer Arlington website.
Firefighters and a couple of extinguisher-wielding workers made quick work of a smoky garage fire along Columbia Pike this morning.
Arlington County firefighters were dispatched to a report of a fire on the 1800 block of Columbia Pike, near Washington Blvd, around 9:45 a.m.
Upon arriving units found a small fire in a screened-in patio area attached to a home’s detached garage. The fire had scorched the roofline of the patio and part of the garage, but had been kept in check by an off-duty Prince George’s County firefighter and a Dominion Power worker who were working on the block and spotted the smoke, according to a fire department spokesman.
The workers used a fire extinguisher to battle the flames. A resident was inside the home at the time and may have been alerted to the fire by a passerby. No injuries were reported.
Deputy Fire Marshal Paul Frank described the damage as minimal, mostly confined to the roof of the structure. He said a preliminary investigation indicates that the fire may have been caused by Christmas lights that were being used as “permanent mood lighting” for the porch. The lights likely ignited some plastic blinds, he said.
Using Christmas lights as permanent lighting is “inadvisable,” said Frank.
Board to Consider Arts Grants — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider its latest round of annual grants to local arts organizations. Among the 18 organizations being allocated a portion of the $215,810 in financial support for the arts are the Arlington Arts Center ($20,547), Bowen McCauley Dance ($27,237), Encore Stage and Studio ($24,715) and Washington Shakespeare Company ($24,247). [Arlington County]
ACFD Says Thanks for Fire Staffing — The Arlington County Fire Department thanked residents yesterday for fully funding safe fire truck staffing levels and an additional peak-time medic unit with the county’s latest Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The new budget took effect July 1. [Twitter]
Landscapers Volunteer at Arlington National — A group of some 400 professional landscapers from around the country volunteered their time at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to help spruce up the grounds. The annual event is organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. [WTOP]
Extended Construction Hours for Ballston Project — The County Board will consider a proposal by Marymount University and developer the Shooshan Company to temporarily extend the construction hours at the “Blue Goose” project in Ballston. The proposal would extend construction hours to 1:30 a.m. for eight weeks, to allow nighttime deliveries of construction materials that would otherwise require lane closures on Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive during the day. [InsideNova]
Lane Closures on GW Parkway — Expect single lane closures on the northbound GW Parkway, 2.5 miles north of Key Bridge, due to repair work on a stone wall along the Parkway. The closures will be in place from 8 p.m.-5 a.m. through Wednesday. [Patch]
The house fire in Donaldson Run that occurred on the night of July 4 was caused by discarded fireworks left in the garage, fire department officials say.
The fire caused a significant amount of damage and it highlighted the danger of unsafe firework usage. Over the Independence Day weekend, the sound of consumer fireworks could be heard all over Arlington. Despite the patriotic connotation, many Arlington residents have come to view the fireworks as more of a nuisance or safety hazard than a spectacle.
“The fire marshal did follow up on a number of complaints from neighbors that they heard fireworks, they saw fireworks that are illegal in the county,” said Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.
Although certain fireworks are legal under Virginia law, that only applies non-explosive fireworks such as sparklers and cone fountains. Any projectiles that fly up over 12 feet are also prohibited, in addition to firecrackers or other exploding fireworks.
Someone caught using illegal fireworks in Arlington could face jail time and/or a fine of up to $2,500, Marchegiani said.
This past weekend, four notices of violation were issued due to illegal usage of fireworks, according to Marchegianai. Despite the fire department adding additional staff to patrol local neighborhoods, oftentimes by the time they respond to a call, the displays are over.
“It’s more than we can handle,” she said.
When it comes to fireworks, Marchegiani recommends that residents take precautions to ensure their safe usage.
“Even legal fireworks can be dangerous, they can cause burns or eye injuries and they’re also a fire hazard,” she said. “When you ignite fireworks, you want to make sure you wear them down completely, put them in a bucket of water, make sure they’re cool and extinguished completely. Its a similar idea to when you’re smoking, make sure the butt’s out completely.”
This year, there were no reported injuries caused by fireworks.
Arlington County firefighters are responding to a two-alarm blaze at a restaurant in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood.
The second alarm was sounded just before 4 p.m.
The mutual aid call is for a fire at Al’s Steak House (1504 Mt. Vernon Avenue), which reopened today after a months-long hiatus, according to an article published on Del Ray Patch less than an hour ago.
Fire at Al's Steakhouse in Del Ray. Opening day. This sucks. No one injured. pic.twitter.com/ixNCKw8cw7
— Birgitta Sunderland (@buggie73) July 6, 2016
(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Firefighters battled a house fire in the Donaldson Run neighborhood around 10:20 p.m. last night (July 4).
The blaze broke out in the garage of a home on the 2300 block of N. Randolph Street, not far from the Stratford School (H-B Woodlawn). The fire extended into part of the home itself.
Via Twitter, the Arlington County Fire Department said that the flames were extinguished by 11:15 p.m. and all of the home’s occupants were accounted for.
Photos showed firefighters in full gear hauling pet kennels out of the home. A photographer on scene said one dog and two cats were rescued.
A fire department spokesman could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning, but ACFD sent the following tweet after the initial publication of this article.
Several pets were rescued from last night's house fire and were kept company by paramedics until reunited with fam. pic.twitter.com/BcFmmOzR1s
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 5, 2016
Photos (above) courtesy Andrew Pang
Updated at 7:10 p.m. — There were 10 passengers in the stalled elevator, we’re told. They were freed after about 40 minutes on the elevator.
@ARLnowDOTcom I was on the elevator with 9 other people!! Stuck for about 40 mins with off and on light smoke
— Liza Parrish (@lizaparrish) June 28, 2016
Earlier: A large number of fire department vehicles have responded to the Courthouse Metro station for a possible elevator issue.
Initial, unconfirmed reports suggest a number of people are stuck on an elevator that’s filling with smoke due to an electrical or mechanical malfunction. There’s also a report of light smoke in an elevator service room.
Firefighters and Metro elevator technicians are working to safely get the elevator to ground level, where the passengers can be evaluated by paramedics, according to scanner traffic.
There is thus far no indication that Metrorail service has been affected.
— Alli Henry (@GenY4Transit) June 28, 2016
#ACFD on scene of a stalled elevator w/ several occupants at Courthouse Metro. Removal of people underway.
— ACFD Firefighters (@IAFF2800) June 28, 2016
Arlington County police and firefighters are on the scene of a reported grease spill in East Falls Church.
A truck leaking a slippery substance has prompted a number of road or lane closures in the area of Lee Highway and Washington Blvd, according to social media reports.
Update at 4:10 p.m. — A fire department radio transmission described the leak as having come from a “sewage truck.”
Update at 4:15 p.m. — A multi-vehicle crash is also being reported in the area.
Update at 4:35 p.m. — A photographer on scene says the grease leaked from a tanker truck containing cooking oil.
— Chief 288 (@Chief288) June 20, 2016
@WTOPtraffic additional info. Multi vehicle AWI now on Lee Hwy btwn Fairfax Dr and Westmoreland.
— Chief 288 (@Chief288) June 20, 2016
#ACFD E106 on scene at I-66, at Lee Hgw for a spill from a truck. Substance leaking is proving a hazard to cars.
— LincolnACFD (@LincolnACFD) June 20, 2016
— Chief 288 (@Chief288) June 20, 2016
Cops just blocked off the Washington Blvd and Lee Highway AND bike trail that's parallel ??@ARLnowDOTcom
— i s a b e l l e (@isabelle_grr) June 20, 2016
Photos (top) courtesy Andrew Pang