Honoring local fire station’s history at forefront of relocation plans

WASHINGTON — Arlington County, Virginia is considering moving one of its 10 fire stations, and the process has stirred the embers of history.

Station 8 has great historic significance in our community and for Arlington,” says Marguerite Reed Gooden, a lifelong Arlington County resident.

At Saturday’s public hearing of the Arlington County Board, Gooden explained the history of the station, perched on busy Lee Highway.

“In the 1950s, Station 8 was the very first fire station staffed with all black paid fire fighters in the state of Virginia and below the Mason Dixon Line,” says Gooden, describing herself as the daughter of one of the pioneer-firefighters.

No final decision has been made and no specific site chosen, but the county is looking at relocating Station 8 a half mile away, adjacent to the county’s salt dome facility. Under these plans, the salt dome facility would be enlarged and the fire station added along with a public park, at least one acre in size.

The board is considering moving Station 8 to improve its response times to fires and medical emergencies.

“With emergency services, response time … is the be-all and end-all, it’s all about safety,” says Arlington County Board Member Libby Garvey.

At least one resident believes Arlington needs more than its current 10 fire stations. Richard Lolich, who lives in one of the neighborhoods along Lee Highway, believes public safety would benefit by adding an 11th or even a 12th station.

“Since the current 10 station configuration was set up, the population of Arlington has grown by at least 28 percent,” says Lolich.

But whatever happens, the board has promised to respect the history of Fire Station 8, even if the facility is relocated.

“We as a board are committed to appropriately commemorating and honoring this story,” says Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hughes Hynes.

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