Burke Fire Department Adapts to New Home

Burke Fire Department Adapts to New Home

The pink flamingos in the barbecue area of the newly rebuilt Burke Fire and Rescue Station #14 were a subtle reminder of how far the fire department has come since the fire that destroyed its original station on Jan. 10, 1997, forcing them to move to the temporary home next to the station they called a "trailer park." The flamingos defined their trailer-park status.

Although the Burke Fire and Rescue Department and Burke Volunteer firefighters moved into the new station in December, the official dedication was on Saturday, May 4. Fairfax County fire fighter Don Melick addressed the crowd, which included chairman of the Board of Supervisors Kate Hanley, as well as Supervisors Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) and Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock).

"The devastating fire left an enormous mark on our fire operations. We didn't have any place to call home," he said.

Hanley took a tour of the facility, which includes 24,500 square feet of space, eight vehicles, a banquet hall, sleeping quarters, a kitchen, meeting and training rooms, and upgraded technical facilities.

"It is wonderful. It is state of the art," she said.

Burke volunteer Brian Knupp was assisting with the tours.

"We haven't actually increased in equipment," he said.

Fellow volunteer Carrie Thompson noted the freeze on increasing the size of the volunteer squad while in the temporary station but now hopes to see new faces.

"We have the capability of growing. We are able to concentrate our efforts on recruiting," she said.

IN THE 1997 FIRE which started in the bay, two ambulances were destroyed, an engine and brush vehicle were severely damaged, and the department was left without facilities. According to fire department information, only two volunteers were in the station at the time, and there were no injuries. The fire reportedly started in the cab of the rescue squad vehicle by an electrical short. The old building was not outfitted with sprinklers because it was not required at the time when the station was built.

The area covered by the new station is not restricted to Burke according to Supervisor McConnell.

"They cover whatever they have to cover. This has been such a boon to the community. It is equipped to do just about everything," she said.

McConnell did note the need to update some of the equipment to deal with tragedies similar to the terrorist strikes of Sept. 11.

"We need to. We’re going to have to go after some new equipment for them," she said.

The coverage for the new station will go into Bulova's area as well. She was hailed for her work with the budget subcommittee to secure funding.

"The Burke Fire Department has always been the center of the community," she said.

Besides the flamingos from the temporary "trailer-park" station, the members managed to salvage the old fire pole, which is displayed in the front entrance of the station.

"We wanted to keep some things from the old station," according to volunteer public information officer Michael Tadle.