August rarely brings to mind wintertime, but I had a little feeling of déjà vu last week when I toured the almost-complete Bailey’s Fire Station 10 on Columbia Pike. Readers may recall the 2010 “snowmageddon” that resulted in a catastrophic roof failure in the original 1974 structure, damaging some fire apparatus and displacing fire crews. Amazingly, the station was out of service for only a brief time, as crews continued to respond to calls for service. Station 10 was owned by the Bailey’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department (BXVFD), which ultimately transferred the property to Fairfax County to enable a new station to be constructed. A temporary facility was installed on county-owned property at Columbia Pike and Moncure Avenue so that fire services to the community were maintained without interruption.
The new Station 10 occupies nearly the same footprint as the original. Parking to the rear was eliminated in favor of a well-planted buffer zone between the building and the neighboring Madison Lane townhomes. The apparatus bays are located closer to Columbia Pike so that the large pieces can be driven through instead of backed in, saving time, fuel, noise, and stress. The new building is flooded with natural light from clerestory windows on all sides. A wide strip of red is an architectural theme throughout the building, sometimes on glass, sometimes in paint, unifying the apparatus bays, the operations center, the bunk rooms, and the kitchen/dining area. A training tower provides space for hanging hose (firefighters tell me it’s important to dry the large fire hoses carefully to avoid mold and damage to the hoses), as well as practicing rescue skills. An exercise area, separated showers and bunk rooms for men and women, and a sunny day room complete the space. By the way, the new roof above the apparatus bay is curved and reinforced, not flat like the previous station.
Station 10 is staffed by county professional firefighters and emergency personnel on a 24 hour basis. BXVFD offices will return to the new station; certified volunteers staff operations and calls for service, supporting the career personnel. The new station is expected to be operational by October, with a Grand Opening for the public on Saturday, October 11. The temporary facility will be removed and re-used at another fire station renovation elsewhere in the county.
Station 10 also is the work site for this year’s Firefighter of the Year, awarded by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Master Technician Michael Lewis, a 26-year veteran of the fire service, was selected for his tireless work ethic, passion for teaching others, and getting things done. Off duty, he has helped rebuild a home for a fellow firefighter, visited local elementary schools for show-and-tell, and mentors young adults at his church. Also recognized at Tuesday’s ceremonies held in the Bingo Hall at Annandale’s Fire Station 8 were Captain I Chester Waters, who leads the county’s Fire Academy staff, as Officer of the Year, and Beth Adams, as Civilian of the Year. Congratulations to these three fine county employees!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]