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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Annandale Fire Station gets the 2013 'Best Open House' award

Firefights with the award for best open house. Robert Melgar in front and in the rear (from the left): Lindsay Cook, Suzanne Adams, Chessy Dintruff, and Susan Hilaski.

For the second year in a row, the Annandale Volunteer Fire Department at 7128 Columbia Pike won the award for having the best open house.  

Deputy Chief Keith Johnson of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department presented a plaque to the AVFD Oct. 12 during the open house at the station. Johnson told the crew the station will be getting a new engine and a new ladder truck.

James Kulaga of Loudoun County dropped by the fire station with his grandparents, who live in Lincolnia.
Throughout the day, firefighters and EMTs helped children explore fire trucks and ambulances, educated children about fire safety, demonstrated CPR, offered tips on preventing kitchen fires, and served hot dogs and snacks.

There weren’t any fires in the county Saturday afternoon, Johnson said, so the fire stations didn’t have their open houses disrupted.

But Saturday night, it was back to work, as firefighters battled an electrical fire at 3439 Holly Road, Annandale. Two people were home at the time. No one was injured.

The Columbia Pike fire station has 12 paid staff on each shift who are Fairfax County employees; the other firefighters, EMTs, and other staff are volunteers, many of whom have regular full-time jobs.


Volunteer EMT Joel Bernardo, pictured above with his son, Jeremy, for example, is a claims adjustor specializing in boat insurance during the day. His first day at the fire station last January was a memorable one: His crew was called to assist a 10-year-old girl in cardiac arrest. When they arrived, she was unconscious and her heart had virtually stopped. The EMTs were able to revive her with CPR and a defibrillator.

Want to learn more about volunteering? The Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association has information about eligibility, training, and benefits.

Sophia Baez of Fairfax tries out the bed in an ambulance.
The AVFD hosts bingo games in the fire station’s social hall to raise money for vehicles and other equipment. Bingo is now twice a week: Monday evenings as well as Thursdays.

On other evenings, exercise classes by Chakaboom Fitness bring the energy level way up in the social hall. Chakaboom is a one-hour cardio class that incorporates world dance rhythms. It’s offered at the Annandale fire station on Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m.


  1. Thanks for the nice story! The call for the 10 year old girl in cardiac arrest was actually during a ride along as part my EMT training. It was late October or Early November of 2012, when I was riding out of a volunteer station in Sterling, VA, part of Loudoun County's Fire and Rescue Department. I believe it was Company 11. -Joel B.

  2. So glad we won Best Open House in battalion award again. If you ever want to go back further, I believe our two stations (8 and 23) have won best house the past FOUR years! Getting the FCPD medical chopper to land behind Company 8 on the big hill, for two years, has been a help to a successful win, too. EMTs & paramedics fly with air flight patient transport on that chopper, so it has been a great fun thing to see (landed and still) on the big field behind station 8.