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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New fire station planned for Bailey's Crossroads

Construction is expected to start within the next few months on a new Bailey’s Crossroads fire station to replace the existing building, which was badly damaged in last February’s monster snowstorm. Station 10 is at 3601 Firehouse Lane, Falls Church.

The station’s roof collapsed under heavy snowfall at about 3 a.m. Feb. 8. Several firefighters were sleeping in the station at the time but fortunately no one was injured. A fire engine and truck were heavily damaged. Since the accident, the fire engines have been sheltered in tents. What had been the garage is now a completely open courtyard.

“We’ve been working with the insurance companies to determine our options—whether to put it back like it was and enhance it or build a new firehouse,” says Dave Presson, assistant chief for the Bailey’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department. “We’re proposing a partnership of the volunteer firefighters and Fire Department to tear it down and build a new one.” Mason Supervisor Penny Gross and the Fire Department are in favor of this option, he says. During the construction, the fire station will be temporarily relocated to trailers on Moncure Avenue, next to the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter.

The Bailey’s Crossroads station is among the top three busiest in the county, says Presson. The original station, built in 1974, is outmoded. New firehouses have better, larger sleeping facilities, especially for women, he says. One-third of the volunteer firefighters at Station 10 are women, and in some shifts, four out of 11 firefighters are women, he says.The firefighters also would prefer having drive-through fire truck bays, so they wouldn’t have to back the trucks in after a job. And the building doesn’t have adequate meeting space, Presson says. Station 10 has to hold meetings at the Mason District Government Center.
Kids learn about fire safety
at Sation #10's open house

One thing the new station is not likely to have is a fire pole, Presson says. “People have gotten hurt trying to slide down poles. From a safety perspective, it’s not as common to have poles in fire stations any more. And if they do have a pole, they don’t use it. It only takes five or 10 seconds longer to run down the stairs.”

The volunteer firefighters spend at least 20 hours a month at the fire station working along with the professional firefighters. The volunteers don’t get paid, but receive training and equipment, and if they live in the county and contribute at least 240 hours a year, their personal property taxes are waived. They all have regular jobs; Presson works for Dell as a consultant to the federal government. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact the Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

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