Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

prenny-fcnpWhen you walk into a store or office building, or any multistory commercial or residential building, do you ever think about the fire suppression systems that protect those structures? Probably not, since complying with building codes and fire regulations simply is assumed in Fairfax County. Behind the façades, however, are sophisticated fire alarm and sprinkler systems — lots of pipes and valves, monitors and alarms — designed to activate automatically, long before fire personnel arrive. Ensuring that fire personnel and building engineers can identify the readiness of these systems, and even shut off a working sprinkler system, was the impetus behind the development of the Fire Alarm and Sprinkler Systems Training (FASST) Laboratory. Formerly housed in a temporary modular building assigned to the Fire Marshal’s Office, the new FASST Lab opened last week in a large, well-lit room, at the new Public Safety Center. The lab is fully operational (connected to pressurized water source), and modules can be switched to simulate different types of installations. The new FASST Lab is one more example of Fairfax County’s innovative approach to solving the challenges of modern construction, while keeping hundreds of thousands of residents safe and secure.

The Fire Department also reminds smokers and backyard grillers to “Sink It or Soak It!” Recent extensive fire losses were traced to improperly discarded smoking materials. Just as firefighters use water to fight fires, you can use water to prevent fires. Just Sink It or Soak It!

The fourth annual Taste of Annandale last weekend was a smashing success! More than 5,000 people attended the community event, which was held under breezy skies that gradually changed from threatening grey to sunny blue by afternoon. The first event of the day, a certified 5K run, drew 134 runners, and the winners ranged from five-years-old to 60-plus. All winners received a handsome Taste of Annandale 5K medal on a ribbon, just like the Olympics, minus the national anthem.

Across Columbia Pike, at ACCA’s Child Development Center, residents got a sneak peek at a pop-up park concept that demonstrates how unused public space can be revamped, at little cost, as an informal gathering place for children and adults alike. The concept is the result of community charrettes that explored what kinds of activities mesh well for a pop-up park. Saturday’s pop-up featured children’s games on a small parking lot, as well as a welcoming seating area for adults on a second level. Plans are underway for a more robust pop-up park to be installed in coming months.

One of the booths at the Taste of Annandale highlighted what could be termed “Annandale’s best kept secret.” Artisans United, a local non-profit organization of craft guilds and artisans, hosts a Craft Gallery at the Fred Packard Center at Annandale Community Park, 4022 Hummer Road, which is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. It’s a great place to find that perfect one-of-a-kind gift, especially since there are only 67 shopping days until Christmas. Basketry, knitting, art glass, carvings, fiber arts, weavers, woodturners, and polymer clay are some of the visual arts and crafts on display and for sale — all local, and all handmade.


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.