Community Pushes Back on Fire Station Plan — Arlington County Board members are hearing an earful from residents who live around Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway. The county is considering relocating the station to improve fire response times in far northern neighborhoods. However, residents say the fire station is historic because it was the first in Virginia to be staffed mostly by professional black firefighters, in the 1950s, and should not be moved. [InsideNova, WTOP]
Kojo and Kaine in Crystal City — WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi will host a “Kojo in the Community” discussion with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tonight. “The discussion will focus on the ways in which the military and defense industry shape our region, ranging from jobs and the economy to infrastructure and traffic,” organizers say. The talk will take place at Synetic Theater in Crystal City. [ARLnow Events]
New Restaurant at DCA — Former “Top Chef” finalist Carla Hall has opened a new 110-seat restaurant in Reagan National Airport’s Terminal A. The menu features contemporary American cuisine with a Southern flair. [Eater, Washington Business Journal]
Now Showing: Shrek, the Musical — Arlington’s Encore Stage and Studio is currently performing Shrek, the Musical at Thomas Jefferson Community Theater. The family-friendly show runs through Sunday. [DC Metro Theater Arts]
Bunnies Galore Near Clarendon — There sure are a lot of bunnies around Clarendon these days, at least according to some concerned bunny spotters who have contacted us about it. Now, there’s some photographic proof. [Twitter]
Update at 4:00 p.m. on 7/2/15 — The advisory for Four Mile Run will be lifted on July 4, Arlington County says.
Arlington County is warning people and their pets to avoid the waters of Four Mile Run below S. Walter Reed Drive, for now.
An unknown petroleum product was discovered in the stream this morning, just before 11 a.m. The Arlington County Fire Department’s hazardous materials team used booms to try to contain the spill, while firefighters and the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services investigated the source.
The size of the spill has not been determined and authorities are warning against making contact with the contaminated water, particularly at the nearby Shirlington dog park.
“The public is advised to stay away from the affected water and to keep pets away until further notice, to eliminate the risk of exposure to petroleum products in the stream,” the county said in a press release. “People should not fish in the stream or have any contact with the water – including wading or swimming – until further notice from the County. The advisory to avoid all contact is considered an extra precaution to allow the effect of the discharge to be diminished by natural flushing of the streams.”
The fire department, meanwhile, has been tweeting about the incident.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 1, 2015
@MrAndersonELA product was coming from a culvert draining into the creek. Probably originated from being dumped or washed into a manhole.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 1, 2015
Update- Although contained, residual product is still in creek. Dogs and their owners should avoid being in the creek until further notice.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 1, 2015
Update: Product is contained. 1 source identified. Investigation for additional sources continues. County will issue press release shortly.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 1, 2015
Photo courtesy ACFD
Tomorrow night (June 25) Arlington will hold the first of four planned meetings to discuss the relocation of Fire Station 8.
Last May, the county proposed a plan to move the fire station from Lee Highway to a county-owned green space near Marymount University on Old Dominion Drive. The Old Dominion Civic Association said it was “blind-sided” by the plan, and raised an outcry that prompted the county to reevaluate.
The Arlington County Fire Department wants to relocate Fire Station 8 further north in order to achieve their goal of four to six minute response times throughout the county. Arlington County studies conducted in 2000 and 2012 both indicated that while response times in most of the county met this goal, the northern part of the county was underserved and would benefit from having a fire station closer by.
At the meeting tomorrow night, residents will hear an overview of the issue from county staff, as well as the criteria and constraints for selecting a new fire station location. Residents will have the opportunity to give feedback.
“[The] process to select a site for the relocated FS8 will include dialogue with community stakeholders, including civic associations within the service area and other members of the public wishing to participate,” according to the county website. “The process will include a discussion of County needs; siting consideration and criteria; and evaluation of alternate sites within the service area.”
On Thursday, July 30, county staff plan to recap previous meeting results and provide another opportunity for community members to weigh in on alternative sites for the fire station. At this meeting, the county staff also plan to outline the process they will use to review the list of potential sites.
At the final meeting, currently scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9, county staff will formulate a recommendation to be presented to the County Board.
The meeting tomorrow will be at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (2609 N Glebe Rd) from 7-9 p.m. There will be a meeting at St. Mary’s at the same time on July 9 recapping the first for any who were unable to attend.
Photo via Arlington County Fire Department
(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) A two-story building on the 2700 block of Columbia Pike caught fire at about 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.
The building, the headquarters of High Sierra Pools and former location of Ski Chalet, was safely evacuated, according to scanner traffic and company employees on the scene. Forty minutes after the fire was first reported, firefighters have contained it. Smoke stopped coming out of the building at around 10:40 a.m.
Fire and rescue crews from Fairfax and Alexandria joined the Arlington County Fire Department to battle the flames. The Pike is shut down from S. Walter Reed Drive to Barton Street to accommodate the large response, and ACFD Capt. David Santini expects it to be shut down past noon.
Santini said High Sierra Pools employees smelled smoke and called 911 at 10:05 a.m. When fire crews arrived, they found the fire had originated in the space between the roof and the second floor ceiling.
“We called a second alarm because of the intense work needed to gain access to the roof,” Santini said. “There were heavy fire conditions and we had to tear up several sections to gain ventilation.”
So far, Santini said there’s no estimate on the damage to the building, and inspectors are conducting an investigation to determine the fire’s cause.
The building’s exterior, from the street, looks largely unaffected by the fire, save for a few scorch marks on the roof.
Metrorail service is suspended between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom due to a reported arcing insulator outside the Foggy Bottom station.
Firefighters were originally called to the Rosslyn station around 8:20 a.m. for a report of smoke in the station.
The station was evacuated but first responders only found a slight odor of smoke, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.
Having not found any smoke or fire in Rosslyn, Arlington firefighters are currently scaling back their initially large response. However, Arlington police remain on scene, assisting with crowd control.
Large crowds of commuters seeking alternate means of transportation have been reported outside the Rosslyn station and other Arlington stations along the Orange Line.
— JensueFerrell (@JensueFerrell) May 11, 2015
Outside Rosslyn Metro pic.twitter.com/o1S4DsuGSd
— Elizabeth Widas (@emt211) May 11, 2015
— Valerie Insinna (@ValerieInsinna) May 11, 2015
— Kymberly Escobar (@kymesco) May 11, 2015
— David Hawkins (@khnashi) May 11, 2015
— Ashley Pratte (@AshPratte) May 11, 2015
— Micah Himmel (@Micah_Himmel) May 11, 2015
Photo (top) via @WashingtonFlack
(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) One person died after a vehicle ran down an embankment on the GW Parkway early Saturday morning.
A technical rescue team from the Arlington County Fire Department responded to the single-vehicle crash.
The vehicle was located 100 feet down an embankment, with one person dead inside, according to a fire department spokesperson. No other injuries were reported.
The parkway remained closed between Spout Run and Route 123 for much of the morning while U.S. Park Police investigated the crash. Lanes reopened around 10:00 a.m., WTOP reported.
(Updated at 1:00 p.m.) Arlington County Fire Department personnel are on the scene of a house fire on the 1000 block of S. Rolfe Street.
The fire was reported at about 11:45 a.m., and when firefighters arrived on scene, fire could be seen from the outside of the house, according to the ACFD union on Twitter.
According to witnesses on scene, one person was in the house when the fire started. ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani said the occupant was outside the house when fire crews arrived.
Witnesses said the fire started in the shed behind the house, but quickly spread, engulfing the rear of the house. The occupant said his garage was on fire when he called 911, Marchegiani said.
The house to the south also caught fire and suffered significant damage, while Marchegiani said the house to the north suffered minor exposure damage.
More than an hour after the fire caught, hot spots can still be seen catching, and ladder hoses are still working to extinguish all remaining flames.
Traffic on S. Rolfe Street is shut down from Columbia Pike past 11th Street S.
Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles around, and the smell of burning wood reached as far north as Ashton Heights.
(Updated at 11:10 p.m.) One lane of Chain Bridge was blocked during tonight’s evening rush hour due to a grim discovery near the bridge.
An apparent dead body was spotted by hikers about 150 yards north of the bridge this afternoon. The body is said to be located on the rocks, close to the Potomac River.
Arlington County firefighters responded to the scene, and the fire department’s technical rescue team rappelled down the cliffs to access the body. A D.C. fire boat and a U.S. Park Police helicopter also assisted in the recovery operation.
At about 6:40 p.m., a member of the Arlington County Police Department was rappelling down the cliff, with assistance of a technical rescue team member, to investigate the scene, a police source told ARLnow.com.
Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck confirmed a “large emergency response” at the scene, on the Virginia side of Chain Bridge, and said that crews are likely to remain on scene for an extended period of time.
One lane of the bridge was open in each direction at the accident scene, with heavy traffic reported on both the Virginia and D.C. sides of the bridge.
Photos viewed by ARLnow.com, taken from a distance, show that the victim was a light-skinned male. He appeared to be bleeding from the head and holding a dark object in his hand.
Members of the Arlington County Police Department, the Arlington County Fire Department, the county’s emergency operations staff and the Arlington Sheriff’s Office were honored today for their efforts and sacrifices while serving the county.
The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held its 33rd annual Valor Awards at the Officer’s Club at Joint Base Myer/Henderson Hall, giving awards for careers of service as well as individual, lifesaving efforts over the past 12 months.
The winners of the afternoon’s most prestigious award, the Valor Award, were ACFD Capt. Craig Brightbill and firefighter/EMTs John Hirte and Chad Aldridge, who were the first responders to the deadly house fire on S. Langley Street last March. Aldridge suffered respiratory and skin burns when he went in first to the house, which was rapidly engulfed in flames.
The three men were staffing Rescue 109, which is one of two apparatus in Arlington currently understaffed.
“Despite the fact that this fire resulted in two civilian casualties and an injured firefighter, the crew of Rescue 109 displayed dedication, courage and perseverance while facing extreme fire conditions, life safety hazards to trapped occupants and themselves, and the overwhelming stress conditions they were presented with,” their commendation, read by WJLA weather director and event master of ceremonies Doug Hill, said.
Among the other winners were Sheriff’s Office Cpls. Phyllis Henderson and Edwin Hill, who, along with Judge Thomas Kelley, saved a man in the Arlington County Courthouse from a heart attack in January; and ACPD K9 Cpl. Aaron Tingle, who helped prevent a rape and capture the suspect in Buckingham last November.
Retired ACPD Chief Doug Scott was also honored after 12 years at the helm of the county’s law enforcement.
“[Scott] will be missed and fondly remembered,” Chamber President/CEO Kate Roche said. “But we all know his legacy will live on in the great work of the Arlington County Police Department.”
Two people were rescued from a car dangling from a parking deck this afternoon after the driver crashed the vehicle through a metal fence.
The Arlington County Fire Department technical rescue team was dispatched to the parking lot of the Carlton Condominium, a high-rise building on the 4600 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive at about noon. The parking deck was one story up, and dozens of Arlington County firefighters and policeman responded to rescue the car’s occupants.
To ensure the car’s stability, a chain was hooked from the car’s undercarriage to rescue truck 104, and a large piece of wood was wedged underneath the car. According to firefighters at the scene, when they arrived the car was dangling and in danger of falling off the edge.
Firefighters had to saw through and remove the metal fencing next to the crash to have access to the passenger’s side door. Both the driver and the passenger were removed safely.
Police: Pair Stole Car, Shrimp, Underpants — (Updated at 2:00 p.m.) A man and a woman allegedly under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol were arrested in Rosslyn Tuesday afternoon. Police say the pair had stolen a car, men’s underwear and a “large quantity of shrimp.” [MyFoxDC]
Playgroup Controversy in Fairlington — Members of a cooperative playgroup that uses the Fairlington Community Center say that Arlington County is attempting a “takeover of the group.” The parents say the county is trying to buy the playgroup’s toys, take over registration and raise the playgroup fee from $20 to $190. [Patch]
How One Teacher Is Using iPads — There’s some question about just how well Arlington Public Schools has trained its teachers on the use of technology in the classroom — particularly the individual iPads and MacBooks that are being assigned at certain grade levels. One teacher at Carlin Springs Elementary School, however, is taking advantage of the iPads in a big way, using them for various interactive lessons. That, officials say, is indicative of how such technology will increasingly be used in schools. [InsideNova]
ACFD Metro Training — Arlington firefighters are participating in department-wide Metro safety training this month. [Twitter]
Firefighters battled a house fire in the Leeway Overlee neighborhood last night.
The fire was reported just before 6:30 p.m., on the 2200 block of N. Nottingham Street. The blaze started in the home’s basement and spread to the first floor, but was quickly extinguished once firefighters arrived on scene, authorities said.
No injuries were reported. The county’s fire marshal is investigating the cause.
As part of its ongoing campaign for additional fire department funding, Arlington’s firefighters association pointed out via Twitter that
Truck Tower 104, which was second due on the call, is “understaffed with only 3 [firefighters].”
Photo courtesy Arlington County Fire Department
(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) A car slammed into the side of an Arlington bank on Saturday.
The incident happened before noon at the BB&T Bank (1100 S. Walter Reed Drive) near Columbia Pike.
No one was injured when the car rammed the bank, nearly running through a set of double doors, according to the local firefighter association Twitter account. No structural damage to the building was reported.
The crash was “a classic case of mistaking the gas pedal for the brake,” said Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The vehicle struck a parked car before crashing into the bank’s ATM vestibule.
The driver was charged with reckless driving, according to Sternbeck.
— Chief 288 (@Chief288) March 14, 2015
Photos (top) via @IAFF2800
Arlington’s fire stations have been understaffed for too long, Arlington’s fire union says, and after one of the deadliest years from house fires in some time, firefighters are pushing harder than ever for help.
In the past 12 months, five people in Arlington have died from three separate fires. After an early-morning fire in Douglas Park last June, two firefighters had to be sent to the hospital, and a fire in January might have been fatal had the residents of the house in the Old Glebe neighborhood not had an escape plan and working smoke detectors.
Rescue 109, a truck serving the Pentagon City and Columbia Pike area, that transports firefighters to emergency scenes, responded to most, if not all, of those fires. It, along with Tower 104 in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, has been operating with three staffers, one less than the national standard for safe operating.
“There is no doubt that without safe staffing levels on ACFD firetrucks, we will continue to see tragedies occur in Arlington County,” the Local 2800 says on its website.
Last year, Local 2800 issued a similar statement, asking for more staffing. At the time, the Arlington County Board had directed County Manager Barbara Donnellan to conduct a review of public safety staffing and incorporate recommendations into her FY 2016 budget. According to ACFD Chief Jim Schwartz, the study is still ongoing.
There are no new firefighters proposed in Donnellan’s FY 2016 budget. Turning Tower 104 and Rescue 109 into four-person trucks would require adding eight full-time equivalent positions, or $1.3 million, the Local 2800 says.
“The staffing study turned out to be a larger project than I think anyone envisioned,” Schwartz told ARLnow.com today. “I am the one who has been pushing the four-person staffing issue for many, many years. It has been a very, very high priority for us. We’ve been through tough budget times that has made it difficult to add fire staff.”
To try to cover the vacancies, the ACFD has applied for a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant. The grant would pay for the positions for two full years, after which Schwartz says the County Board has pledged to assume the ongoing costs.
The ACFD last received a SAFER grant in 2007, and has been denied that last two times it applied. Schwartz said he feels the last two rejections “gives us a leg up this year,” considering the Federal Emergency Management Administration, which awards the grants, likes to “spread the money around.” Schwartz expects to receive a decision on the grant at the end of the summer.
The Local 2800 has been meeting with County Board members this week, proposing it adds between $500,000 and $600,000 to the FY 2016 budget to cover overtime costs and staff the two undermanned trucks.
“This is much cheaper than the 8 FTE option of $1.3 million because it would utilize existing employees and would not incur additional benefits or pension costs,” the Local 2800 leadership told ARLnow.com in a joint statement.
Schwartz said he does not support the Local 2800’s proposal, and added he is already concerned about the amount of overtime his firefighters have been working. The ACFD must have at least 73 people working at all times, and is already forced to keep firefighters for overtime beyond the 56 hours a week they each work.
“On more occasions that I am comfortable with, we have to hold someone on a mandatory basis because we cannot get someone voluntarily to fill the 73 [required on-duty positions],” he said. “I’m concerned about the effect [more overtime] would have on safety. I have great concern about the stress, and the effect extra hours has on performance.”
According to the fire union, the lack of sufficient fire personnel has already led to a hazardous situation. During last March’s house fire in Nauck, the Local 2800 says “a firefighter assigned to Rescue 109 attempted a heroic rescue of two civilians trapped on the second floor of a house fire. While searching for the trapped residents, the firefighter suffered major burns to his body and respiratory tract, requiring a multiple day stay at the Washington Hospital Burn Unit and several months away from work recovering.
“In this situation, only having three firefighters created a difficult, if not impossible task to effect the rescue of the two trapped civilians,” the union leadership continued. “Additionally, had the burned firefighter not been able to self-extricate the house via a ladder, only one other member of Rescue 109 was available to help get him out.”
Schwartz denied that the lack of staffing was to blame for the two deaths in Nauck, saying “I would argue any suggestion that a fourth person on that company would have in any way changed the outcome either to the victims or the firefighter.”
On top of the two understaffed trucks, Schwartz told ARLnow.com ACFD currently has 14 vacancies, from retirements and firefighters leaving the department, that it is looking to fill in the near future.
Photo, top, via @IAFF2800
Three people were hurt when a staircase collapsed, sending them plummeting into a 10 foot hole.
The incident happened around 6:45 p.m., outside a home on the 900 block of N. Madison Street, in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.
Three people — two adults and one child — suffered non-life-threatening injuries when the concrete staircase in front of the home collapsed under their feet and they fell into the hole. The Arlington County Fire Department technical rescue team extricated the victims and the two adults were transported to a local hospital.
Fox 5 has additional photos of the incident. The station reported that the victims were carrying groceries at the time of the collapse.