Manassas fire department opens station to locals during lengthy power outage

A few hours without power is usually an inconvenience. But go much longer, especially in this winter weather, it becomes much worse. And if your home is on well water, it takes it to a whole new level.

As thousands enter their third day without power in Prince William County, Virginia, it can be frustrating and problematic.

But on the outskirts of Manassas, the Buckhall Volunteer Fire Department is coming to the rescue — not with fire trucks zipping out, but by keeping its doors open so the public can come in.



“We figured we’re here, we have a space to use, why not open it up to the public?” Buckhall President Luke McBride said.

McBride said it’s one thing if the outage lasts a day, but it’s essential to give people time to charge their electronics, get some water to fill their toilets up with and heat themselves up for a couple hours.

“Especially at this point, with people on well water, they might not have bathrooms, toilets to be able to use,” McBride said. “Just technology, being so reliant on, especially cellphones, what’s going on, when you’re going to get an update.”

He acknowledged that its one way the fire department is able to help the community in what’s been a paralyzing storm, something he said was worse than people had thought it would be.

The fire hall will open back up to the public again Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., though those hours can be extended if needed.

“It is a very big hall,” McBride said. “We can spread out tables and chairs, that way everybody has a place to sit.”

The public can also connect to the guest Wi-Fi, which maybe not the fastest, still offers a connection for people who need to conduct business but don’t have a signal at home. A nearby Harris Teeter has also donated food to go with bottled water that’s also being made available.

“It’s some place people can hide out for a few hours and get out of their house,” said McBride.

“We’re hoping that people will hear more about it,” and if they need to come by “that as this progresses and it takes longer and longer for power to come back that we’ll be able to keep this open as long as possible to provide that resource.”

Among those who were gracious for the opened doors were WTOP Traffic’s own Rob Stallworth, who showed up there yesterday along with his wife.

“They were awesome,” said Stallworth, who was full of thanks and praise for the crew at Buckhall.

“The hospitality was great. They asked us if we needed anything. They had plenty of food. Plenty of coffee. Bottles of water, whatever you needed. They really took care of you.”

That allowed the Stallworths to charge up all the electronics for the day before they went back home to wait for the lights to come on.

“We absolutely love it,” said McBride.

He mentioned that, despite some of the volunteers having their own storm-related issues at home, they put that aside to come help out their neighbors.

“They’re people that are right next to us, and when you see those people in need, we want to do what we can to help them,” McBride said.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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