WASHINGTON — A D.C. firehouse built downtown in 1932 will soon be back in business after a 14-month-long, $9 million modernization process.
“There’s a lot of history attached to this station,” D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Gregory Dean said at Monday’s grand reopening ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Engine Company 16 is nestled between high-rises on 13th street between K and L streets in Northwest. It appears even older than it is given its colonial revival architecture, and three brick stories topped with a white cupola and weather vane.
The structure’s upgrades include adding adequate accommodations for women.
“Twelve percent of our population is female firefighters,” Chief Dean said. “It’s a nontraditional profession. If you’re going to be inclusive, it has to be built for everybody.”
The station began its tenure inclusively serving both police and fire personnel between 1933 and 1970 housing medical services.
“The clinic was on the third floor and all the police and firefighters came here to get their physicals, to get taken care of when they got sick or hurt or whatever,” Dean observed.
Dean also noted that the fire station is named after Leonard “Bud” Doggett Jr., who founded the group HEROES, Inc. to support the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters in the D.C. area who die in the line of duty.
The death of D.C. firefighter Kevin McRae shortly after Dean was named chief showed him what an important role HEROES serves, Dean said.
The Engine Company 16 modernization project includes the fire department call box outside. The box is being restored and will be dedicated as a memorial to Engine 16 firefighter Tommy Turner who died fighting a four-alarm fire on New York Avenue on June 6, 1971.
Before telephones were common, Dean said people used the boxes to alert an alarm office through a system similar to Morse code. Each box number was assigned to a specific intersection where fire units would be dispatched.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said that reopening Engine Company 16 is just one more thing that reflects recent improvements to city fire and emergency services.
Something as simple was creating wider openings to apparatus bay doors at Engine Company 16 will allow for quicker departures to emergencies, officials said.
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