June 14, 2005


``Protecting those who Protect us''
- Fort Myer firefighters, Arlington County, Virginia

In some parts of the Washington, D.C., area, a call to the fire department will bring out the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy.

The federal government operates fire departments at military bases and installations in and around the nation's capital. These ``federal fire departments'' provide the traditional services of municipal agencies - suppression, prevention, medical care, hazardous materials response - as well as ``mutual aid'' to neighboring cities and counties.

The federal fire departments' company numbers typically correspond to their local mutual aid agreements, i.e. the U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department in Anne Arundel County (Maryland) identifies on the county's radio net as Company 46.

Fire departments discussed on the ``blog:"

Fort Myer, U.S. Naval Academy, Mount Weather, Naval District of Washington, Fort Belvoir, National Institutes of Health, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Warrenton Training Center, National Naval Medical Center, National Institutes of Standards & Technologies, Naval Surface Warfare Center - Carderock and Dahlgren, Mount Vernon Estate, Andrews Air Force Base, Fort Detrick, Marine Corps Air Facility - Quantico, Fort Meade.

Emergency Response

Some of the federal stations are quite busy while others rarely turn a wheel.

In Arlington County, Virginia, three members of the Fort Myer Fire Department were on duty at the Pentagon heliport on Sept. 11, 2001 and among the first responders to assist victims of the terrorist attack that killed 189 people.

Their fire truck - Foam Tender 161 - was destroyed by the explosion and the firefighters suffered burns and other injuries as the Pentagon heliport and firehouse were located (and still are) next to the crash site.

More typical ``runs and workers'' range from residential fires to alarm bells - aka ``smells and bells.''

The Naval District of Washington Fire Department's web site carried the following account of a house fire at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington in December 2004:

Sun. Dec. 19 At 0535 Engine 41, Engine 43 and Tower 21 responded to 1624F Reinburg Circle for a reported house fire. Engine 41 arrived on the scene side "A" laying out 100' of 4" with nothing showing. As Engine 41's crew advanced the 1 1/2" attack line to the front door, and Tower 21's crew gained entry into the residence, they encountered heavy smoke with zero visibility at the front door. Engine 41's crew extinguished the fire on the first floor that included the kitchen and living room. Tower 21's crew performed search and rescue and secured utilities, while Engine 43's crew advanced a line to division two. Crews cleared the fire ground approximately 0645.

On May 12, 2005, Engine 511 of the National Institutes of Health Fire Department responded on a mutual aid call for a house fire in the Kensington section of Montgomery County, Maryland. ``Engine 511 crews were first to arrive and stretched handlines and performed interior operations,'' the NIH union local's web site reported.

Two days later, May 14, 2005, federal firefighters from NIH responded to a more unusual mutual aid call to Montgomery County - a fire in a county firehouse!

According to the union local's web site:

Engine 511 and Tower 51 responded to a vehicle Fire inside fire station 20 in Bethesda to assist MCFRS crews. Engine 201 had caught fire after returning from an EMS call with Ambulance 519 on Old Georgetown Road. After pulling back into the station, heavy smoke appeared from the engine compartment of Engine 201. Tower 51 crews assisted Engine 201 crews extinguisher the fire with dry chemical fire extinguishers.

Medical calls are common, too.

During the typically grueling Washington summer, a number of visitors succumb to the heat at Arlington National Cemetery, and Fort Myer's Rescue Engine 161 along with Arlington County Fire Department medic units regularly respond to the Kennedy grave, the Tomb of Unknowns and other popular sites at the cemetery.

Top Secret

Over the years, some of the federal installations in the Washington area - along with their fire departments - were hidden from public view.

The crash of a TWA Flight 514 on a foggy Sunday morning more than 30 years ago forced the Mount Weather facility, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, to ``blow its cover.'' The fire department at the top secret installation - a "doomsday hotel" for senior government officials - was the closest to the remote crash site.

According to the web site globalsecurity.org:

On 01 December 1974, a TWA Boeing 727 jet crashed into a fog-wrapped mountain, killing all 92 persons aboard. Journalists who covered the crash site noticed fenced US government facility nearby. Within days, The Washington Post reported that the facility was known as Mount Weather, though The Post quoted a spokesman for the Department of Defense as saying he was not allowed "to comment on what Mt. Weather was used for ... or how long it has been in its current use."

Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency operates the installation, which is located near Berryville, Virginia. Mount Weather is described by the government as ``a hub of emergency response activity providing FEMA and other government agencies space for offices, training, conferencing, operations, and storage.''

A federal fire department also protects the U.S. Army's classified Warrenton Traning Center in Faquier County, Virginia. The training center is described as a military intelligence installation that operates from four high-security sites. That department has a mutual aid agreement with the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Department. The radio transmitter site for Faquier County Fire/EMS is located at the Army installation, according to the local newspaper.

Federal firefighters

Federal firefighters, for the most part, are civilian employees of the Army, Navy and other agencies. They typically work 24 hours on, 24 hours off in two platoons. Municipal departments in the region work in three platoons, allowing for a shorter workweek. The federal firefighters' wages are based on the U.S. government service - ``GS'' - pay scale.

Uniformed members of the military - specializing in aircraft emergencies - serve as firefighters at Andrews Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Facility - Quantico.

Most of the civilian federal firefighters are affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters union. IAFF locals representing federal firefighters are denoted by the letter "F" preceding the local number, i.e. Local F-271 at the National Institutes of Health in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Over the years, some of the federal fire departments have disbanded - the victims of budget cuts. Among those to answer their last alarm, Engine Company 66 at the Army's old Arlington Hall Station on Route 50 in Arlington County, as well engine companies as the Army's Cameron and Vint Hill Farm stations in Virginia, and at the Cheltenham Naval Communications Detachment and White Oak Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Maryland.

Additionally, a fire station operated by the General Services Administration protected the old ``South Post'' of Fort Myer until that land was transferred to Arlington National Cemetery, and the Federal Aviation Administration transferred the fire departments at National and Dulles airports to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in the late 1980s.

The St. Elizabeth's Hospital Fire Department disbanded after management of the hospital was transferred to the District of Columbia from the federal government. The former federal fire department briefly operated at D.C. Engine 34 after the transfer and closed in the mid-1990s.

More closings are possible.

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center Fire Department's union local reported on its web site on May 30, 2005:

Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been selected by the Department of Defense to be realigned. The proposed plan would close Walter Reed Hospital and create a new facility at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Fort Belvior to be called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The selection is the first step of many in the BRAC process. Any members with questions please contact your union officers.

General Pershing

Federal fire departments aren't unique to the Washington area.

The Interior Department operates the Presidio of San Francisco Fire Department at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California - one of the oldest federal fire departments.

It was organized by the Army after the 1915 ``Pershing Fire'' - a house fire that killed the wife and three children of General John "Black Jack" Pershing. The flames spread through the house from the fireplace. The general wasn't home.

According to the National Park Service, which today manages the day-to-day affairs of the former garrison:

After the Pershing fire, Senator Warren led a congressional mandate for improved fire fighting resources at the Presidio. At the same time, San Francisco Fire Chief Thomas Murphy recommended establishing a permanent fire company at the Presidio. Based on Chief Murphy’s recommendations and encouraged by an embarrassed U. S. Government, the army built a fire station in 1917. The new Presidio Fire Station was the first on any U.S. Army post to house a permanent fire company with trained firefighters.

Today, the Presidio fire department operates two fire stations, and its territory includes the world famous Golden Gate Bridge. Engine 51, Truck 51 and Medic 51 are assigned to the fire department's No. 1 fire station, according to the union local. Engine 52 and Medic 52 are assigned to the No. 2 station along with a reserve pumper, Engine 55.

The federal fire department has a mutual aid agreement with the San Francisco Fire Department and responded into the city during the 1989 earthquake.

Marine Corps

An interesting article from the Internet (the writer is identified as James Casey) describes the development of the Marines Corps fire and rescue service:

The first Marine Corps Structural Fire Department was established at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC in 1915 when the Marine Corps acquired the land that had been used as a Navy prison. The department consisted of four stations.

The Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, CA established the second Marine Corps Fire Department in 1916 followed by Marine Corps Base, Quantico, VA, Fire Department in 1917. The first Marine Corps Fire Department with an aviation section was established at Marine Flying Field, Quantico, VA in 1917. When Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC was established in 1941, fire trucks were transferred from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island to equip the Camp Lejeune Fire Department.

From their initial establishment through World War II, the fire departments were totally staffed by Marines. In 1947, Headquarters Marine Corps created a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS 7051) for an airfield firefighter, the Crash Crewman. This MOS also had a secondary duty of structural firefighter. Several of the Marine firefighters at Parris Island became the first Marine Crash Crewmen. Marine firefighters from other bases were also assigned the new MOS and left the structural fire departments to organize the airfield fire departments.

Between 1947 and 1949, the fire departments began integrating civilian fire fighters. During the Korean conflict, the Marines were phased out of the structural fire departments and they were staffed with civilians. ... Today, the Marine Corps continues to maintain two distinct fire and emergency services (F&ES), one for aircraft rescue fire fighting (ARFF) staffed by uniformed Marines, and one for structural fire and emergency services staffed by Civil Service firefighters, our Civilian Marines.


Arlington County, Virginia

Company 61 - ``First responders to Pentagon attack''

Fort Myer
Engines 161 and 162

Pentagon Heliport
Foam 161

``Foam 61 to Fort Myer - We have had a commercial airliner crash into the west side of the Pentagon ...''

Three members of the Fort Myer Fire Department were on duty at the Pentagon heliport on Sept. 11, 2001 when a hijacked airliner crashed into the building, killing 189 people. The heliport is located next to the crash site and their rig, Foam 161, was consumed by flames.

The Fort Myer firefighters helped rescue people from the ruins of the Pentagon - even though they too sustained injuries - until reinforcements arrived from their central fire station as well as Arlington County and other fire departments.

According to the fire department's web site:

The Fort Myer Fire & Emergency Services Department is a progressive career federal fire department located in Arlington, Virginia. We protect the men and women of the armed services assigned to Fort Myer and the Pentagon. This department also provides fire and EMS services to the Arlington National Cemetery, protecting 612 acres of land and buildings as well as the 4 million visitors it recieves each year. We also provide crash-fire-rescue service to the Pentagon heliport with over 1,500 aircraft movements a year. The department also has an interservice agreement to provide fire-rescue service to the Henderson Hall Marine Corps base as well.

The fire department is also a signatory to the Northern Virginia Regional Response Plan ("NOVA") and regularly responds off the post and into Arlington County.

Sept. 11 at the Pentagon

IAFF.org recounts the events of ``9-11'' from the perspective of the Fort Myer firefighters:

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, as American Airlines Flight 77 hurtled towards the Pentagon, two Fort Myer Local F253 members looked skyward, and suddenly realized that something was wrong.

Something was terribly wrong.

Moments later, fire fighters Allan Wallace and Mark Skipper ran for cover as the ill-fated aircraft impacted the southwest face of the building, leaving hundreds of Pentagon workers as well as the 64 people aboard the plane dead or missing.

"I just happened to look up and see the plane," said Wallace. "It was about 200 yards away, and was coming in low and fast. I told Mark that we needed to get the hell out of there."

The hijacked Boeing 757, loaded with 30,000 pounds of fuel, departed Dulles International Airport at 8:10 a.m. enroute to Los Angeles. At some point during the flight, terrorists commandeered the plane and steered a course for Washington, D.C. At 9:40 a.m., the plane smashed into the five-story office building which serves as the nerve center of the U.S. military.

Both Wallace and Skipper tried to get as far away as possible. Wallace only made it about 20 feet, but found shelter under a transport van. Skipper ran toward a field and was knocked over by the blast. Both men suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns.

A third Local F253 member, Dennis Young, was inside the Pentagon's fire house facility. He'd been watching the reports of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on television when he heard a loud noise. Ceiling tiles lifted from the pressure as a ball of fire rolled through the station.

The fire house was demolished but, other than twisting his ankle when he was trying to get out of the building, Young was unhurt.

"I knew from past experience that it was a plane crash." said Young, who was one of the first to respond when a Canadian C-130 crashed near Fairbanks, Alaska in 1989.

The three men initially ran to their fire apparatus. They hoped to move it into position to attack the fire, but the damage was substantial and the vehicle could not be used.

Instead, they focused there efforts on assisting the victims. "There were people coming out of windows," said Skipper. "We helped them evacuate the building, and then I started pulling medical equipment from the truck to set up a triage operation."

"A lot of folks from the Pentagon pitched in to help bring victims to the triage area," said Wallace. "Those people deserve credit for what they did. I can only imagine how reassuring it was for the victims that there was someone there for them to hold on to."

Local F253 Capt. Dennis Gilroy was on duty at the Ft. Myer fire house, and received the call from Wallace that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Ironically, many Ft. Myer personnel were taking part in an Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting class that morning. In a matter of minutes, more Ft. Myer fire fighters along with members of Arlington County, Va. Local 2800, were on their way to assist.

Gilroy set up a command center at the site. Surveying the devastation to the building, he realized the incident would require a long-term effort by emergency workers.

"I can only describe it as organized chaos," said Gilroy. "There was just so much to do, we didn't have time to be affected by it. We just focused on doing our job."


Following is the eyewitness account of Fort Myer Firefighter Alan Wallace, who was on duty at the Pentagon firehouse on Sept. 11, 2001.

His account was published on the web site of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters. Before joining the Fort Myer Fire Department, Wallace had been a federal firefighter in Ohio.

“Foam 61 to Fort Myer. We have had a commercial airliner crash into the west side of the Pentagon.”

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was assigned to the Heliport Station at the Pentagon. I was assigned there the day before as well. I should have been assigned to the Pentagon Fire Station all that week. Fort Myer fire fighters were taking a week-long class on Air Field Fire Fighting, given at the classrooms Building 219. Mark Skipper, Dennis Young, and I had already had the training. Mike Thayer, John Pine, and Ronnie Willett also had had the training. Thayer, Pine and Willett were schedule off on 9/11. Chief George Thompson was off because his wife was ill. Mark Skipper, Dennis Young, and I were the three crew members assigned to the Pentagon Fire Station on the morning of 9/11. We arrived there about 0730. The Fire Station was new and we had only been using it since January or February of 2001. We also had a new crash truck assigned there, an Emergency One Titan 3000. It carried 1,500 gallons of water and 200 gallons of 3% foam. Our first helicopter flight was around 10 AM. But we were expecting President George W. Bush to land in Marine One around 12 Noon, returning from Jacksonville, Florida. (He had actually left from the Pentagon the day before.) Needless to say, neither flight arrived at the Pentagon that day because of the terrorist attacks.

Mark, Dennis, and I had our turn-out gear either on the crash truck or in the station. About 0830 I decided to pull the crash truck outside of the fire station and place it in a position more accessible to the heliport landing site. The truck was then parked perpendicular to the Pentagon with the rear of the truck 15-20 feet from the west wall of the Pentagon and the truck facing west, towards the heliport pad. The right side of the truck was approximately 30 feet from the fire station’s apparatus door opening. (I forgot to mention the Ford Van we normally use for transport between Fort Myer and the Pentagon. It is a 15 passenger vehicle which was parked west of the fire station facing north, with it’s rear about 10 feet north of the apparatus end of the fire station, approximately 6 feet from the side of the fire station.)

The firehouse

The fire station is approximately 75 feet long, 35 feet wide and 16 feet tall. The flight control tower sets above the fire station. There were two other individuals at the heliport site: Sean Berger (U.S. Army personnel) and Jackie Kidd, both active duty Army.

As I said, we were expecting President Bush about Noon, which would be a Code One Stand-By. In such situations, one of the problems I see at the heliport is that there are too many people there. Plus, there are many vehicles, including Secret Service, Pentagon SWAT, U.S. Park Police, D.C. Cops on motorcycles, and the two Presidential Limousines. And, some of these vehicles even park in front of the fire station apparatus door, blocking the fire truck from exiting the building! That is why I wanted the crash truck out of the station and parked in a good location, for easy access to the heliport in case of an emergency.

After checking out the fire truck, eating a bowl of Corn Flakes, and cleaning the station and apparatus area, I sat in my favorite chair in the apparatus area to read a book about opera. About 0900 Mark and Dennis were inside the fire station in the day room. Mark came out to tell me that an airplane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I then got up and went into the day room to watch the television coverage from New York City. While we three were watching, a second aircraft struck the second tower. I think we watched the TV for about 10 minutes or so.

Fateful call

I then went back outside. I was soon joined by Mark. We both began to work around the crash truck and were talking about the events in New York. About 0920, Chief Charlie Campbell called the Pentagon fire station to inform us of the attacks on the WTC in New York. He actually talked to all three of us: first Dennis, then me and then Skip. He wanted to be sure we were aware of the WTC disaster and that it was definitely a terrorist attack. He wanted to be sure we were aware of everything going on around the fire station. He also said Washington D.C. could very well be a target and if that happened, our fire truck could be dispatched to an incident.

Let me say this: After the NYC attack, I began to have “second thoughts” about having the fire truck parked where it was. Would it be better for the time being to return it to the fire station until around 1100 or so? But I decided not to move it.

Mark and I continued to mess around the fire truck. The last minute or two before the plane hit the Pentagon, Mark and I were working in the right rear compartment where the foam metering valves are located. Mark told me how, if you had to, you could get as much as 50% foam solution out of the roof turret and discharges. We laughed about cheating the Government out of some foam! Mark and I then walked toward the right front corner of the truck. We were side-by-side, always within an arm’s reach of each other. We had walked past the right front corner of the crash truck (Foam 161) and were maybe 10-15 feet in front of the truck when I looked up towards my left side. I saw a large frame commercial airliner crossing Washington Blvd., heading towards the Pentagon! The plane had two big engines, appeared to be in level flight, and was only approximately 25 feet off the ground and only about 200 YARDS from our location. I later said the plane approached the Pentagon at about a 45 degree angle, but later drawing showed it was closer to 60 degrees. The airplane appeared to be a Boeing 757 or an Air Bus 320- white with blue and orange stripes. Mark later recalled the plane was silver and even identified that it was American Airlines.

'Loud, scary, horrible'

So many people think Mark and I watched the plane hit the building. We did NOT. We only saw it approach for an instant. I would estimate not longer than half a second. Others didn’t understand why we didn’t hear it sooner. We did not hear it until right after we saw it. I estimate that the plane hit the building only 1½-2 seconds after we saw it. What I am saying is, immediately after we saw it, we heard the noise; the engines, I’m sure. I described that as a terrible noise – loud, scary, and horrible.

At the time we saw the plane I said, “LET’S GO!” and Mark and I ran away from the area. I turned and ran to my right, going north. (I do not remember which way Mark went, since I did not see him until I crawled out from under the Ford Van.)As I recall, I had several clear thoughts and feelings as I was running: The noise from the engines from the airplane Awareness that now WE are being attacked Planning to run until I catch on fire, and then maybe dive to the ground and then figure out what to do Hearing the sound of the plane crashing into the Pentagon, which I later described as “crunch” Sensation of a lot of pressure.
Feeling very, very hot, very quickly “We’re certainly not going to burn up!”

Later that morning when I began to look at the distances of everything from the fire truck, I thought the plane hit the building 200 feet south of the front of the fire truck. I had only apparently run about 20 feet when the plane hit the building. I ran another 30 feet or so until I felt I was on fire. I thought I had done everything I could do for myself. I decided to get down below the fireball. So I dove face first to the blacktop. At this time, it just happened that I was right beside the left rear tire of the Ford Van. (I presumed that the debris from the Pentagon and airplane was being propelled away from the impact site.) I immediately crawled very quickly under the Van for cover and safety.

At this time, I noticed a lot of heat and decided to crawl to the end of the van. Very soon the heat was unbearable and I decided to get out from under the van and get farther away from the impact site. It was then that I saw Mark Skipper to my left – out in the field 50-75 feet away. He was standing, looking back to the impact site and seemed to be swinging his arms. I immediately ran over to him to ask if he was OK. He said he was, and then said, “I’m glad you saw the airplane!” I said, “Get your gear on – we have a lot of work to do; I’m going to the fire truck.”

Crash truck ablaze

It was probably at this time that I first noticed the damage to the Pentagon and the crash truck. A lot of smoke was in the sky above the Pentagon. The rear of the crash truck was on fire with a large blaze. But most noticeable was that everything around the fire truck on the ground was on fire. Also, the west side of the Pentagon was on fire, all the way from the first to the fifth (top) floor.

I ran about 30 yards back to the damaged crash truck, stepping carefully not to slip on the burning debris covering the ground. I arrived at the right cab door, opened it and climbed in. I grabbed the radio and put the headset on, then jumped over the radios and into the driver’s seat. I immediately pushed the 2 engine start buttons and the engine started, to my amazement. I thought if I could pull the fire truck away from the Pentagon and put it in a left turn, I could direct the roof turret nozzle into the impact site using the foam and water on board the truck. I then pushed off the emergency brake and pulled the transmission selector into the drive range and tramped on the accelerator (I still couldn’t believe the engine had started). However, the accelerator would not make the engine run any faster and the truck would not move. (I later found out from Mark that whenever I tramped on the accelerator, the flames on the back of the truck would flare up.) The window in the left door was open and I had left the right cab door open as I entered the truck. There was a lot of smoke coming up along the left side of the truck and blowing through this open window, and filling the cab with smoke as well as exiting the right door. There was a fire in the left side of the driver’s seat back. That must have produced a lot of the smoke in the cab as well. At some point when I was in the cab, I looked to my right and saw Dennis Young walking through the apparatus area, so I knew he was OK.

At another point I called Fort Myer Fire Dispatch on the radio and gave the following message:

“Foam 61 to Fort Myer: We have had a commercial airliner crash into the west side of the Pentagon at the heliport, Washington Blvd. side. We are OK with minor injuries. Aircraft was a Boeing 757 or Air Bus 320.” It also seemed like I mumbled something else before I removed the headset, shut of the truck engine and began to egress the vehicle.

Firehouse trashed

The fire station was to my right and I noticed it was trashed and there was burning material inside the apparatus area. I see Mark outside the right cab door signaling me to shut off the engine.

(Note: I feel I had the fire truck engine running in 20 seconds after the plane hit the building. This time included running, crawling, checking on Mark and running back to the burning crash truck.)

Just as I was about to get out of the wrecked truck, someone appeared at the cab door asking for a breathing apparatus. He may have been a Pentagon Cop. So I handed him one of the Scab's and then handed another one to Mark. Before getting out of the cab I grabbed my helmet, radio, and face piece (for my SCBA). I carried these items over to the rear of the van, an area I thought would be out of the traffic and easy to find later. Dennis was attempting to use a fire extinguisher on the truck. Mark was removing some of the EMS equipment from the truck. At this time, we all probably thought the truck would be consumed by the damaging fire.

At this point, I went into the fire station through the open apparatus door area and attempted to get dressed in my turn-out gear (coat, pants, boots and helmet). I noticed my boots and pants were covered with debris, with numerous wood, rock and metal fragments filling the boots. One of my elastic suspenders was on fire, which I stamped out (or so I thought). When I was considering how best to empty the debris from my boots, I heard a voice back outside saying, “We need help here.” I think it was at this time that Dennis, Mark and I began to assemble at the first floor windows of the Pentagon (behind the crash truck).


I was later told by a civilian rescuer that I helped him climb into the window of the Pentagon where most of the victims exited the building. I don’t remember helping him up, but I definitely remember him being there. I feel he was instrumental in organizing the rescue effort at this area of the Pentagon. At the time, I described him as a civilian, 35-40 years old, wearing black jeans, and a black polo shirt with a red logo on the shirt. In April 2002, I learned that the identity of this “civilian” was Blair Booze. He turns out to be a Lt. Col. USAF, retired. He was one of the SR71 Spy Plane pilots. HA! Mark and I always felt 10-15 people may have exited the Pentagon at our location. Most of the victims were big ladies. All were terrified, most were burned. They had varying amounts of clothing burned from their bodies, and some were missing shoes. We were assisted in rescuing them by several civilians as well as Armed Forces people who, having been uninjured in the attack, had come to aid their fellow employees.

I would like to describe how very hostile the working environment was following the airplane attack. We were directly up against the Pentagon building, which was on fire with smoke pouring heavily from all the windows. The ground was burning all around us. A magnolia tree was burning, which gave a strange sensation of flaming “things” floating in the air – I later realized they were magnolia leaves. There were several times the heat was so intense that I thought my pants were on fire. It was especially difficult to breathe because of the smoke and fumes. These conditions definitely limited how long we could assist in the rescue.

I do remember helping three men carry an unconscious man all the way out to the guardrail beside Washington Blvd. While carrying him, I noticed the 4 inch fire hose from our Fort Myer Rescue Engine #161. That meant our fellow fire fighters were on the scene. This was a relief because after I called them on the radio, I was certain it would be difficult for them to get to the Pentagon because of the traffic. But I learned later that Rescue Engine #161, Rescue Engine #162 and the Assistant Chief did not have difficulty getting to the Pentagon.

A further comment about my radio message: I should have followed it up with a call from one of the portable radios or possibly a phone call to Fort Myer from the heliport station phone (had it been in service). I had not waited for a reply from Dispatcher Bob Connelly.

Unknown to me, before my radio message, Arlington Dispatch was receiving numerous 911 calls from all around the county. Reports were varied: helicopter crash into east side of the Pentagon, tractor trailer on fire on Washington Blvd., possible airplane crash on or near the 14th Street Bridge. Many of the 911 callers could see smoke, but could not determine its source. Some likely saw a low flying aircraft or heard the impact of the crash. Arlington Dispatch advised all listening stations about some of these reports, but of course, didn’t confirm exact location, etc. In fact, it is quite possible that one of these callers recalling the flight #90 crash into the Potomac River many years ago, was instrumental in causing National Airport to dispatch the first big crash truck. According to the fire fighters from the classroom at Fort Myer, immediately after the communication from Arlington, they heard my radio message. Therefore, apparently my message was successful in informing my fellow fire fighters of the exact location.

After victims stopped appearing at the Pentagon windows, Mark, Dennis and I began assisting the arriving Fort Myer companies on the fire ground. My next task was to get into my “fire turnout gear”. Returning to the rescue site behind the crash truck, again I looked at my fire boots and pants, and they were still full of debris, but now the left suspender had completely burned down to the end where it had been attached to my pants! I picked up my gear and dumped out the rocks, etc., stepped into my boots and pulled up the fire pants. With only one suspender, I must have looked like Jethro Bodine from the Beverly Hillbillies. I also got on my nylon sock-hood and fire coat. I grabbed a big lantern and 2 fire extinguishers (1 CO2 and the other 20# Purple K, potassium bicarbonate).

I pulled the safety pin on the CO2 and placed the lantern under my left arm, walked around the burning end of the crash truck, sprayed some of the CO2 on it and under it. The extinguisher seemed only about half full, so it was quickly discharged and I threw it aside.Pulling the pin on the Purple K bottle, I walked behind the truck and into the Pentagon. Holding the illuminated lantern in my left hand, I immediately noticed how poor the visibility was. Keep in mind I still had no gloves, no helmet and no SCBA. I do not think I went into the building any further than 20 feet. I would see fire and spray the extinguisher on it. It makes a very loud noise when being discharged and I did so several times. Out of nowhere I heard the clear voice of a woman yell “Hey!” She had heard the sound of the fire extinguisher and realized she was near another person. She did not sound panicked. I yelled back, “I can’t see you” and she clapped her hands. I was waving my flashlight. I didn’t go after her, and later I questioned my courage about why I hadn’t.

Washington Post

Several days later I noticed an article in the Washington Post which mentioned me. It also described a woman, Sheila Moody, who heard the swoosh of a fire extinguisher from someone, called out, and was answered by and rescued by a fire fighter. I do not remember making contact with her. I believe it was my fire extinguisher she heard, but I also believe she was intercepted by another fire fighter. But had I not had the fire extinguisher but taken the garden hose attached to the fire station, she might have not known she was very near the outside of the building and near rescuers.

I then began to assist the fire fighting crews. I got a larger nozzle tip for the attack team and got 50 feet of 4 inch hose off Engine 161 so we could move the deluge closer to the Pentagon. Another project I undertook was to begin removing all equipment off the crash truck: the 3rd SCBA, all the extra air bottles, power cords, flood lights, all the 1¾ inch hose (200 feet of it), tools and fire extinguishers. At this point the truck was still on fire and a lot of fire was right behind the truck in the Pentagon. I also noticed that the two personal vehicles that had been parked near the impact site, belonging to the two Army Flight Control Tower personnel, had both been completely destroyed by flying debris and fire.

About this time hose line crews from Fort Myers were entering the building with a 2½ hose with a 1¼ inch solid nozzle. We added 50 feet of 4 inch hose to the deluge gun. Captain Dennis Gilroy noticed the first collapse of a cornice about the 5th floor window, just above the impact site. Dennis Young and I were at the deluge gun and were told to pull back and allow the deluge gun to operate unmanned.About the time Gary ordered our people to get out of the building, there was a report of another hijacked airliner allegedly heading toward Washington DC. During this period of waiting, Captain Gilroy was assigning fire fighters to hand line teams to attack the fire which was beginning to spread to the 3rd and 4th floors of the Pentagon.

By now I feeling the effects of exhaustion from the frantic pace and severe shortness of breath from the lack of air at the impact site where we had assisted victims. I thought Mark and Dennis wee in the same shape. Mark and I both told Gilroy not to count on us for the hand line crew. Our fellow Fort Myer fire fighters had become aware of our injuries and Gilroy called an EMS crew to tend us.


Our injuries were primarily 2nd degree burns on our necks and forearms. In addition, Mark had a laceration on his hand, Dennis had a sprained ankle and I had left shoulder pain. (Note: Mark, Dennis and I were only wearing T-shirts, work trousers and boots or heavy shoes at the time of the attack.) A Medic unit arrived, Arlington I believe. They bandaged our burns with wet dressings and wrapped them with gauze. I was given oxygen to breath; the others weren’t experiencing difficult breathing. We were delivered to the triage area at approximately 1100.

There, we three saw Jackie Kidd and Sean Berger from the Control Tower. They looked to be OK. Jackie was really shaking and Sean had his forearms wrapped much like us. When I saw them I realized I had not thought once about them after the attack. I felt bad about this. Later I thought I would have at least told Dennis Young to “check on the people in the tower”, but I guess there was just far too much to think about in the immediate response to the attack.

Sean and Jackie were both given a ride home by a Nurse-bystander named Victoria Brunner, who had been working in Triage (she now works at Fort Myer-Radar Clinic as a counselor). Mark, Dennis and I had a welcome opportunity to rest in the triage area and were given water, bananas, apples and plums. There were probably 50 health care people there. Triage was located in the tunnel under Washington Blvd. on Columbia Pike.

By now the word of our experience had spread to the FBI who interviewed us, as well as Kidd and Berger, while we were in triage. After our interview I wanted to return to the fire ground to see all the people from Fort Myer. We did so and spent about ½ hour there. Mark, Dennis and I stayed around triage for about 2 hours. During this time I had a chance to use a cell phone to call my mother in Ohio. She was very relieved to learn I was OK. I also called Donna Houle at the Women’s Memorial in Arlington Cemetery and asked her to contact some of my friends. In the next few days I think I called everyone in my address book.

After all the other victims had been removed to hospitals, Mark and I were taken via ambulance to Arlington Hospital by Army Chase-Bethesda Rescue Squad #1. A young medic trainee named Sandra Melnick drove the medic unit. There were 6-8 people in the back of the squad, with one patient placed on a cardiac monitor. I sat in the front with her to give directions to the hospital.

After being released from the hospital I contacted one of the hospital security officers to request a ride back to Fort Myer. He provided a driver within 5 minutes. Just as we were leaving the hospital, we were questioned by one of the local TV news channels, Fox I believe. We told them about seeing the airplane approach in time to run away from the Pentagon building.

Our driver took us as far as the Iwo Jima Memorial, just 200 yards from one of the gates into Fort Myer. Of course by now security had been increased significantly since my arrival there at 0530 earlier in the day. The MP’s had shoulder arms and a vehicle with a machine gun mounted on top was nearby. I was wearing a hospital gown and my fire boots, carried my fire pants in a plastic bag, and had no ID. Fortunately, one of the MP’s recognized me and allowed us to pass. (Mark did have some ID.)

Ride home

As soon as we were allowed to pass through the gate and Air Force Major gave us a ride back to the fire station in his Jaguar. Ha, we were home!

We immediately began to tell our story and help out at the fire station. Dennis was there when we arrived. Soon after, Howard Kelley gave Mark a ride home. Dennis drove himself to his West Virginia home. I stayed at the fire house that night.

I enjoyed being back with my fellow fire fighters and getting the equipment back on the truck. Our people were exhausted, some were still frightened. I think all were glad they were working that day.

Remember the three fire fighters who were scheduled off the day of 9/11? Willett, Pine and Thayer all came back in when they heard the news. Thayer told me later “from 25 miles from the Pentagon, I could see smoke and I knew you three must be dead.” He also said he felt bad because he was the person who had assigned us to the Pentagon Heliport.

I was grateful – and am now amazed – that my injuries were minor. The burns on my forearms and neck healed quickly. My shoulder pain persisted and ultimately required surgery in November 2001. The surgery went well and the surgeon and I were pleased with my recovery from it.

I returned back to work in February 2002, glad to have a good job. I am very proud of Dennis, Mark and myself. I am SO grateful that none of our fire fighters were seriously injured or killed.


Berryville, Virginia

Company 21

Up until Dec. 1, 1974, Mount Weather a "top secret" government facility. Even members of Congress didn't know it existed. Then a TWA airliner crashed just outside the installation in bad weather - and the federal fire department was the closet to the crash site. The 30-year-old secret was revealed to the world.

The Mount Weather Fire Department protects a remote 383-acre installation today operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Blue Ridge Mountains, west of Washington, DC. The fire department is a signatory to mutual aid agreements with the fire and rescue services in Clarke and Loudoun counties.

A vast underground bunker houses a ``shadow goverment'' at Mount Weather as well as FEMA's national operations center. Senior members of the federal government were evacuated to Mount Weather in the hours following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The installation also has 65 buildings.

The FEMA web site said: ``The Mount Weather Management Division works operates and maintains the Mt. Weather EAC by providing basic services such as: electrical power, water, transportation, health care, fire service, security and facility maintenance.''

According to the web site of the Winchester Star newspaper:

The facility has been used by several government departments since 1902, when Herbert and Mavin Allen sold 94 acres on Paris Mountain to the government for $1,373.50. ... The land began as an observation and research center for the U.S. Weather Bureau. ... The U.S. Bureau of Mines began using the facility for experiments in 1936. The greenstone and striated granite at the site is the fourth-hardest rock known, Looney said. After World War II, with the fear of nuclear attack growing, the Army Corps of Engineers excavated an underground bunker between 1954 and 1959. Now under FEMA’s management, the agency organizes assistance for disasters all over the country and outside the continental United States from Mount Weather.

TWA Crash

Dec. 1, 2004 marked the 30th anniversary of the TWA crash that killed 92 people just outside the Mount Weather installation.

An article on the web site of the Clarke Times-Courier - entitled ``Remembering TWA Flight 514'' - recalled the tragedy, including the account of a fire officer from Berryville who apparently knew of the top-secret facility also known as ``Round Hill."

The newspaper reported:

Some, like rescue workers from Berryville's John H. Enders Fire Company, which was alerted at 11:45 a.m., had no idea that they were rushing to the scene of a crash.

"We responded to a fire on 601 with two trucks," said the late Wayne Whetzel in a retrospective article in the Clarke Times-Courier's Dec. 8, 1999, edition. In 1974, Whetzel was the captain of the John H. Enders Fire Company.

"We had heard there were power lines down but didn't know there was a plane crash until we got there," said Whetzel.

When Whetzel's group arrived, it joined the Round Hill rescue squad, which was already fighting the blaze.

The local newspaper also reported:

... hype surrounding the crash heightened when the media discovered that Flight 514 had gone down at the doorstep of a secret government facility, which had suffered a power loss due to the accident.

The Mount Weather facility, a federal relocation center for government officials, had been built decades ago, fashioned deep within the granite of the mountain.

Reporters flocked to the entrance of the 200,000-square-foot facility, which sits on a 434-acre site on the borders of Clarke and Loudoun counties, but they were unable to gain admittance.

June 13, 2005


Annapolis, Maryland

Company 46
Fire Stations No. 1 & No. 2

According to the U.S. Naval Academy's web site:

We are First Responders of Fire and EMS Services to visitors and residents in the Annapolis Naval Complex. This includes the United States Naval Academy, North Severn Naval Station, and David Taylor Research Center.

The naval academy ``has forged a close alliance with Annapolis and Anne Arundel County,'' according to the web site HometownAnnapolis.com:

The Naval Academy Fire Department has a mutual aid agreement with the city and county which establishes guidelines for all three departments to help out one another.

Fire Chief James Nichols said the 40-person fire department is made up exclusively of civilians, whose responsibilities are no different from those any Annapolis firefighter would handle.

"We all train together. We go to the same schools," Chief Nichols said.

The two departments even shared Annapolis' space for two years while the Naval Academy was rebuilding its fire station in 1996 and 1997.

Having its own fire department benefits the academy, Chief Nichols said, because the firefighters can respond almost immediately and are familiar with every building.

The Naval Academy Fire Department, housed just inside Gate 8, responds to about 1,300 to 1,400 calls a year, Chief Nichols said.

Several hundred are mutual aid calls, but about 1,000 are at the academy or Naval Station Annapolis.

IAFF Local F-254

The naval academy fire department has a colorful history, according to the union local's web site:

The United States Naval Academy Fire Department was established in Annapolis, Maryland in 1845. The first fire engine was a six-cylinder hand pumped Hunneman. It was manufactured in Boston, Massachusetts and nicknamed the “Sally Blythe” and was operated by the U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen, Staff and Residents. In 1859 a second hand pumped engine was received from the Hunneman Company. In October of 1866 the U.S. Naval Academy received its first steam engine, an Amoskeag, and was named “Severn”. Throughout the late 1800’s and thru the early 1900’s, the U.S. Naval Academy operated two large steam fire engines, one hand drawn ladder wagon, and several hose carriages.

During the Great Fire of Baltimore, the U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department sent one large steam fire engine, by train to assist Baltimore City in the year of 1904. In 1918 two paid fire engine driver operators were hired to protect the U.S. Naval Academy. The U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department then purchased a 1924 Ford Model “T” chemical fire engine and put it into service. Dozens of fire apparatus have been received and placed in service throughout the years. In December 12, 1941 a fully paid fire department was established with 23 personnel, with the first Fire Chief being Jessie Fisher.

In 1961 the U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department consolidated with the Severn River Naval Command Fire Department, which absorbed their four fire stations, personnel and equipment. After the consolidation the U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department operated out of two fire stations and reported to one fire chief. The U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department tragically had its first “Line of Duty Death”, on March 20, 1962, with the loss of F/F Herbert A. Wells. F/F Wells was killed, during a house fire training drill that was conducted at the U.S. Naval Station Annapolis, Quarters #39 on Bennion Road in Annapolis, Maryland.

In 1970 the U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department expanded its service to provide emergency medical services with placing a Basic Life Support ambulance in service. During the 1960’s and thru 1981 the firefighters of the U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department were represented by AFGE Local #896. From 1982 thru 1987, the firefighters were represented by Local #8 of the Federal Firefighters Association. Finally in 1988, U.S. Naval Academy Fire Department firefighters petitioned for charter membership with International Association of Firefighters and became IAFF Local # F-254, with Doug Howard being the first president of our local.

June 12, 2005


Washington, DC

Indian Head, Maryland

Central Division

The central division of the NDW Fire Department commenced operations in 1980, consolidating the fire and rescue services at Bolling Air Force Base, the Washington Navy Yard and the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC.

NDW Fire has mutual aid agreements with the District of Columbia Fire Department and the Prince George's County, Maryland, Fire Department.

Fire Station 1 - Bolling Air Force Base
Engine 41 and Truck 21
(There are no aircraft operations at Bolling)

Fire Station 2 - Washington Navy Yard
Engine 42

Fire Station 3 - Naval Research Laboratory
Engine 43 and Hazmat 43

From the Central Division's web site:

As directed in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Memorandum of 25 April 1977 Commandant, N.D.W acting for the Department of the Navy, and Commander 1185th Civil Engineering Group, acting for the Department of the Air Force, conducted a joint survey of fire protection and prevention services in the Washington Navy Yard, Anacostia Site, Bolling Air Force Base and Naval Research Laboratory areas, to determine the most efficient means of providing fire protection under a consolidated fire fighting agency.

Project procedures include review of past correspondence and current directives, determination of minimum fire protection requirements at the affected military bases, detailed assessment of the response capabilities of the existing fire departments, comparison of costs under present and consolidated management, and definition of an optimal organization.

The survey determined that it was both operationally and economically feasible to provide fire protection commensurate with the most stringent Navy and Air Force requirements, with a consolidated department . The recommended organization would be Navy administered and operated; civilian manned. Continued back-up assistance under a formal Mutual Aid Agreement would be required of the District of Columbia Fire Department.

The Consolidation of the fire department services was completed on 15 July 1980.

Bolling AFB History

From the Bolling AFB web site:

Located on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., Bolling is located in the nation’s capital. Bolling’s men and women proudly accept their responsibility as a showcase for the Air Force because of its proximity to the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and the White House.

The base officially opened July 1, 1918, and was named in honor of the first high-ranking Air Service officer killed in World War I, Col. Raynal C. Bolling, who died March 26, 1916.

Bolling’s early years chronicled the growth of the entire U.S. Air Force and served as a proving ground for the new Air Service as it spread its wings. Bolling Field also served as a research and testing ground for new aviation equipment and it’s first mission provided aerial defense of the capital and accommodated pilot proficiency.

Already well established as one of the world’s best aviation bases, Bolling rapidly grew during the years 1939 through 1945 as it met once again the challenge of a world war. The core units at Bolling at the beginning of 1939 were one housekeeping squadron, the base headquarters, the 14th Air Base Squadron and two air base maintenance squadrons -- the first and second staff squadrons.

For the remainder of World War II, Bolling served as a training and organization base for men and units going overseas and became the aerial gateway to the nation’s capital.

Because of airspace congestion around National Airport, fixed-wing flying activities left Bolling in 1962 for nearby Andrews Air Force Base. This meant Bolling’s role would change to that of a support base and a new era would begin.

Navy Yard and NRL History

From the Navy Yard's web site:

The Washington Navy Yard, authorized by the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, in 1799, is the U.S. Navy's oldest shore establishment. It occupies land set aside by George Washington for use by the Federal Government along the Anacostia River. The original boundaries that were established in 1800, along 9th and M Streets SE, are still marked by a white brick wall, built in 1809 along with a guard house.

World War II found the Navy Yard as the largest naval ordnance plant in the world, with the weapons designed and built there used in every war in which the United States fought until the 1960s. Small components for optical systems and enormous 16-inch battleship guns were manufactured here. The Navy Yard was renamed the U.S. Naval Gun Factory in December 1945, and ordnance work was finally phased out in 1961. Three years later, on July 1, 1964, the activity was redesignated the Washington Navy Yard, and the deserted factory buildings began to be converted to office spaces.

From the Naval Research Lab web site:

NRL was the first modern research institution created within the U.S. Navy. It began operations at 11 a.m. on July 2, 1923. ... The laboratory has pioneered naval research into space, from atmospheric probes with captured V-2 rockets, through direction of the Vanguard project - America's first satellite program - to involvement in such projects as the Navy's Global Positioning System. ... Today, NRL is the Navy's lead laboratory in space systems research, fire research, tactical electronic warfare, microelectronic devices, and artificial intelligence.

Indian Head

From the NDW Western Area's web site:

Founded in 1890, the facility at Indian Head was the Navy's first established presence in southern Maryland. What began many years ago as a gun test facility on the Potomac River, has evolved and expanded to include numerous scientific and response-force missions serving all branches of the military: Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marines.

In May 2005, the web site dcmilitary.com reported:

Rep. Steny Hoyer, Maryland's 5th District Congressman and current Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, officially dedicated Indian Head's new fire engine last month.
Speaking in front of an assembled group of firefighters and officials from the Naval District Washington West Area, Hoyer said that the new fire truck represented a "commitment to the Navy and to the area."

"I am happy to be here today to see the results of the funds we were able to secure in last year's Defense Appropriations bill," Hoyer said.

"This new ladder truck will be an important addition to the equipment in service here at Indian Head, and will allow the department's 45 firefighters to also better serve not only the base but also the people who live and work in Charles County. Under the mutual aid agreement with the county, last year this station responded to more than 300 calls outside the gates of the base, making Chief (Jay) Thompson's firefighters a vital asset to the surrounding area of the base," he said.

The 13th term Democrat noted that the funding also addressed shortfalls projected for firefighting equipment at other NDW facilities as well, including Patuxent River, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Dahlgren Va. (where an identical truck was delivered).

"I am happy that we have been able to provide some relief for a number of installations through the Naval District Washington, and I am always proud to fight hard in support of our volunteer, career, civilian and federal firefighters. I will continue to champion increased funding for equipment, training and staffing, enhanced pay and benefits, and improved safety conditions for firefighters," he said.

The Mechanicsville resident was joined in the dedication by NDW fire chief Ed Stillwell and Bruce Poore and Joe Gronau, IAFF union officials who were involved with Hoyer in a recent caucus seeking increased benefits and safety concerns for federal firefighters.

"We are asking men and women serving our military installations as firefighters to do so with outdated and inadequate equipment," Hoyer pointed out, adding that the new truck replaced one that "is nearly 20 years old."

"I am disappointed that we have to fight for extra dollars to make sure we have adequate firefighting equipment to protect our military bases," he said. "This is a very specific example of an argument I have been making for sometime...that we are underfunding our military, even though the Pentagon will spend more than half a billion dollars this year."

The new truck is a 765-foot Pierce ladder-pumper. Together, with the Dahlgren truck and associated fire equipment, the NDW West Area benefit was estimated at $450,000.

June 11, 2005


Fairfax County, Virginia

Fire Station 63 - Headquarters
Engine 463, Truck 463 and Special Services Unit

Fire Station 65
Engine 465 and Assistant Chief 463

Fire Station 66 - Davison Army Airfield
Engine 466 and Foam 466

The Fort Belvoir Fire Department is a signatory to the Northern Virginia Regional Response Plan ("NOVA") and regularly responds off the post and into Fairfax County.

From the fire department's web site:

Unofficially known as Camp Belvoir 1915-1917 and officially Camp Humphery 1917-1922 had no organized fire protection until April 6th 1918, with the organization of Camp A.A. Humphery Fire Department. Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Park indicated that Camp Humphery was a serious fire threat and ordered that fire prevention activities begin immediately. Army Captain A.L. Schuffert was assigned to the position of Fire Marshal. The early prevention activities consisted of a network of fire guards used to cover all sections of the camp around the clock day and night. In the following days, Lt. Wilson was appointed Assistant Fire Marshal. On April 24th 1918, Lt. Bachrach was assigned commanding officer of Fire, Truck & Hose #346, this station was located at 16th Street and Gunston Road.

On June 4th 1918, 43 men were transferred to Camp Humphery from Camp Lee Infantry Corps. to become the permanent fire company. These men had been disqualified as infantry men and for service abroad. After inspecting them, most were found unfit to be firefighters. 5 men were discharged, and 12 were sent to Walter Reed Hospital for operations. This left 23 men to make up the Fire Company. At this time the only means of notification of a fire was from the guard located in a fire tower in the center of the camp, or from local guards that would fire 3 shots in succession. With Camp Humphery being a tinder box consisting of all wood buildings and surrounded by woodlands, these guards were always on their toes. The second station was occupied in July 1918, this station was to serve the area of the camp hospital, which is presently the Theote Road area.

This station was occupied by the department from 1918-1924. At the time, this building was to only last 5 years. At the time of demolition in the early 1990's, this station, later know as (T-270) was, with the exception of warehouses across the railroad tracks on 16th street, the oldest wooden building left on post. The 1920's brought many changes, Camp Humphery became Fort Humphery in 1922 and as more soldiers made the post their home, the need for a proficient fire department increased.

Again a transformation occurs when Fort Humphery is renamed Fort Belvoir in 1935, the Fire Department consists of a mixture of civilians and soldiers. Raymond Lloyd was hired as the first civilian Fire Chief. As many firefighters did in the early days, Chief Lloyd lived in the fire station while his family lived in Washington, DC. they were able to see each other on weekends. When money appropriated by Congress to pay civilians fell short, soldiers from units on post were substituted to carry on the work. This arrangement meant Lloyd had to train a new batch of firefighters each month. When Chief Lloyd requested firemen from the post personnel office, he was sent men who were experienced all right - experienced steam engine firemen. After that he made it a point to ask for firefighters.

June 10, 2005


Montgomery County, Maryland

Company 51
Engine 511, Tower 51, Ambulance 519, Hazmat 51 and Decon 51

BLDG 12, ROOM 103
BETHESDA, MD 20892-5602
(301) 496-2372

From the fire department's web site:

The National Institutes of Health is unique to the Federal service in that it is the largest biomedical research facility in the United States with approximately 21,000 people working at the Bethesda, Maryland campus. The NIH is characterized by a complex research environment, presenting a wide variety of hazardous operations including 3,500 research laboratories; a research hospital; animal facilities; computer facilities; a high hazard bio-containment (Bio-safety Level 4) laboratory; commercial and industrial occupancies; day care and infant care facilities; dormitory and apartment facilities; single family residential homes and an underground mass transit train station. Each type of operation presents vastly different and unusually difficult problems regarding the types and variety of hazardous conditions which must be efficiently, yet safely, handled.

The NIH Fire Department provides fire, emergency medical, hazardous materials and specialized rescue services to the NIH. Many of the technological hazards at the NIH are unique and require specialized knowledge and originality in devising methods to prevent and mitigate the effects of the exigency. Pre-emergency planning must be completed in a timely manner and must coordinate the efforts of the Fire Department with many other NIH support activities. Extensive training must be presented to firefighters and other facility staff along with response personnel from surrounding jurisdictions in emergency planning and response requirements.

In addition, the Fire Department serves as the principle liaison with the NIH scientific community and support organizations during emergencies. The Department develops and conducts in-house training initiatives in fire suppression, pre-hospital emergency medical techniques, fire safety initiatives, confined space rescue and other specialized emergency procedures which are necessary to mitigate the effects of incidents involving hazardous chemicals, bio-hazardous and radioactive materials. The Fire Department provides inspection and maintenance on approximately 5,000 fire extinguishers and responds to fires and other emergencies at the National Naval Medical Center and in Montgomery County, Maryland in accordance with current mutual aid agreements.


Montgomery County, Maryland and Washington DC

Company 54 - Forest Glen Annex, Maryland
Engine 54 and Battalion 54

Company 55 - Medical Center, Washington
Engine 55, Truck 55 and Hazmat 55

From the fire department's web site:

Company 54 is located in Montgomery County MD and provides Fire & Emergency Services to the WRAMC Forest Glen Annex and Glen Haven housing complex. A new station was built in 2003 to replace the aging building that was located within the Walter Reed Historical District.

Located on the Main post in Washington DC, Company 55 provides ALL Fire & Emergency Services protection to all WRAMC facilities on and off post. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center Fire Department was organized in October 1919 after a fire occurred in the NP Wards, which were of wood construction and located on the grounds that presently is the site of Delano Hall. Prior to this fire, enlisted men of the Medical Detachment supplied fire prevention and fire fighting. After this fire, a Congressional Order called for establishing a paid fire department, manned by civilians, and for the establishment of a continuous training program.

June 09, 2005


Warrenton, Virginia

Company 19

The Warrenton Training Center Fire Department maintains a mutual aid agreement with the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company. The installation is listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a ''Superfund'' cleanup site. The EPA describes the center:

... as a closed and classified communications training and support facility of the national Communications System (NCS). The United States Army serves as the executive agent for the administration and management of the WTC on behalf of the NCS. The Warrenton Training Center was first established in June of 1951 and is comprised of four stations. Stations A, B, C, and D. Stations A, B and C are all located in Faquier County and Station D is located in Culpepper County. Station B operations include communications training, electronics testing, and related equipment maintenance. The focus of the environmental investigations is at Station B.

According to the web site of the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company:

Mutual aid is a given in the fire and rescue service and WVFC is no exception. Within its first due area WVFC receives mutual aid from the Catlett Vol. Fire Co., Lois Vol. Fire Co., Marshall Vol. Fire Co. New Baltimore Vol. Fire and Rescue Co., Orlean Vol. Fire Dept, Remington Vol. Fire and Rescue, The Plains Vol. Fire and Rescue Co., Warrenton Training Center Fire Dept., and the Warrenton Vol. Rescue Squad. New Baltimore and Warrenton Training Center primarily assist on structural fire responses in the corporate limits of Warrenton. In turn the company gives mutual aid to these companies.

June 07, 2005


Montgomery County, Maryland

Company 53
Engine 531

(301) 975-6190

The NIST's laboratories conduct research in``physical and engineering sciences,'' including fire suppression and fire safety. The NIST is a division of the Commerce Department.

According to the NIST web site:

The Fire Research Division develops, verifies, and utilizes measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and the means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment.

This work involves integration of laboratory measurements, verified methods of prediction, and large-scale fire experiments to demonstrate the use and value of the research products.

Focused research activities develop scientific and engineering understanding of fire phenomena and metrology; identify principles and produce metrology, data, and predictive methods for the formation/evolution of smoke components in flames and for the burning of polymeric materials; and develop predictive methods to enable high-performance fire detection and suppression systems.

Through the Division’s programs in measurement, prediction, systems integration, and the dynamics of fire and its interactions with the built and natural environment, the division provides leadership for advancing the theory and practice of fire safety engineering, fire fighting, fire investigation, fire testing, fire data management, and intentional burning.

Extensive publication and technology transfer efforts facilitate the use of fire research results in practice in the fire communities in the United States. Participation in the codes and standards processes helps to reduce barriers to trade and global markets for U.S. goods and services.


Montgomery County, Maryland

Company 50
Engines 501 and 502

(301) 295-0319

From the medical center's web site:

In 1938, Congress appropriated funds for the acquisition of land for the construction of a new Naval medical center, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt selected the present site in Bethesda, Maryland, on July 5, 1938.

When President Roosevelt saw the spring-fed pond on the land, it reminded him of the Biblical "Pool of Bethesda", a place of healing and renewal, and felt it would be a perfect spot for the medical center.

Ground was broken for the Naval Medical Center on June 29, 1939 by Rear Admiral Percival S. Rossiter, MC, USN, (Ret.), the former U.S. Surgeon General whose steadfast support helped to make the project a reality. President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Tower on Armistice Day, November 11, 1940.

The original Medical Center was comprised of the Naval Hospital, designed to hold 1,200 beds, and the Naval Medical School, the Naval Dental School (now the National Naval Dental Center) and the Naval Medical Research Institute.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, temporary buildings were added to accommodate 2,464 wounded American Sailors and Marines.

The Medical Center is Expanded In August of 1960, a $5.6 million dollar expansion project was initiated and consisted of two five-story wings attached to the main building's east side. Completed in the summer of 1963, Buildings 7 and 8 provided space for 258 beds and replaced the World War II temporary ward buildings.

In January of 1973, the mission of the Naval Medical Center was modified to include the provision: "to provide coordinated dispensary health care services as an integral element of the Naval Regional Health Care System, including shore activities, as may be assigned."

This change established the National Naval Medical Center Region and placed all naval health care facilities within the Naval District Washington under the authority of the commanding officer of the Medical Center.

The new inpatient buildings and the Naval Medical Center were consolidated into one command on September 1, 1973 to form National Naval Medical Center.

In 1975, an extensive renovation began which included the construction of two new buildings: Building 9, a three-story outpatient structure, and Building 10, a seven-story, 500-bed inpatient facility, with a combined area of more than 880,000 square feet.

In 1979, the remaining temporary buildings were replaced with a multi-level staff-parking garage. This addition made National Naval Medical Center one of the largest medical facilities in the country. The original Naval Medical Center tower has since been deemed a historical landmark and entered into the Registry of Historical Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.


Montgomery County, Maryland

King George County, Virginia

Company 52 - Carderock
Engine 521

BLDG. 152
BETHESDA, MD 20084-5000
(301) 227-1550

From the Carderock web site:

The Carderock Division consists of approximately 3,800 scientists, engineers and support personnel working in more than 40 disciplines ranging from fundamental science to applied/in-service engineering. We are the Navy's experts for maritime technology.

Company 28 - Dahlgren

The Naval Surface Warfare Center's Dahlgren Laboratory is one of the more distant installations - 55 miles south of Washington, DC, 60 miles north of Richmond, Virginia, and 23 miles east of Fredericksburg, Virginia, between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.

From the Dahlgren web site:

Dahlgren was established in 1918 as the Naval Proving Ground, and named Dahlgren in honor of Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren, who is considered the father of modern naval ordnance. Prior to 1918, the Navy had operated a proving ground at Indian Head, Maryland, which became inadequate with advances in ordnance during World War I. A range of 90,000 yards down the Potomac River was provided by the move to Dahlgren.

Dahlgren was then an extremely remote area. Thus, to recruit and retain the highly specialized work force required, the Navy provided housing, food and medical services, schools and recreational facilities, and many other community services.

Until World War II, the principal work at Dahlgren was to proof and test every major naval gun, along with the rounds they deliver, for fleet use. This was done at the Main Range Gun Line which faces down the Potomac River. While the Gun Line still performs that vital role, the scope and depth of work at Dahlgren has grown tremendously. Reflecting this expanded mission, and Dahlgren's transition to a broad-based R&D capability, the name was changed in 1959 to Naval Weapons Laboratory.

Concurrently, the pace of change in the Dahlgren area has relieved the Navy of much of its role in providing community services. Dahlgren now has a land area of 4,300 acres that includes several miles of Potomac shoreline and a 20 mile downriver range for projectile testing.


Fairfax County, Virginia

Company 68 (Formerly 99)
Engine 468

From the estate's web site:

Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, a private, non-profit organization founded in 1853 by Ann Pamela Cunningham. ... In the 1920s, Henry Ford visited Mount Vernon and was struck by the threat fire posed to the wooden buildings. He presented Mount Vernon with a “motor-equipped chemical fire engine” in 1924, which he later replaced with an updated 1936 version. This led to the formation of a full-fledged Mount Vernon fire department, the installation of fire hydrants, and a constant upgrading of alarm systems.

In an article published in March 2001 on the web site of Engineered Systems magazine, James Simms, the director of operations and maintenance at Mount Vernon, reported that 13 members of the estate's staff served as ``standby firefighters'' in addition to their regular duties. Simms served as the estate's fire chief.

Simms also wrote:

Mount Vernon's Engine Company 468 is considered part of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, and handles frontline response to fire emergencies, backed up by the county firefighters. Fairfax also supplied the modern pumper used at Mount Vernon. Water sprinklers and high-pressure hoses are not considered appropriate for historic buildings, and especially not the mansion house at Mount Vernon. ... So in addition to the careful concern of the staff, the first line of defense for the house and throughout the estate is a system of fire detectors to summon the on-site firefighters.


Prince George's County, Maryland

Company 74

Andrews Air Force Base, the home of Air Force One, operates two fire stations that are staffed by both military and civilian firefighters.

From the base web site:

Established first as Camp Springs Army Air Field, Andrews' official history began Aug. 25, 1941, the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote a letter to the secretary of war directing the use of the land on which the base now stands.

Located 10 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., in Prince George's County, Md., the base was under construction during the remainder of 1942 and became operational May 2, 1943, with the arrival of the first Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

The name of the base was formally changed to Andrews Field on March 31, 1945, in honor of Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews. Gen. Andrews was commander of European operations for all Army Air Forces at the time of his death in an aircraft accident near Iceland in 1943. With the establishment of the Air Force as a separate military service on Sept. 18, 1947, the name was modified to its present form, Andrews AFB.

Today, the 4,320-acre base hosts more than 20,000 active duty military people, civilian employees and family members.


Frederick, Maryland

Company 50

From Firehouse.com

Fort Detrick Fire and Emergency Services proudly protects approximately seven thousand people living in an area of two square miles. We operate out of one station that protect a primarily industrial area. Our department is a private department whose members are on a paid status.

Home to the National Cancer Institute's Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the Fort Detrick F&ES division provides a variety of services to its military and civilian customers. Serving laboratories, administrative and office occupancies, communications facilities, barracks and family housing areas with fire protection, crash fire and rescue, emergency medical services, confined space rescue and hazardous materials incident mitigation are undertaken from the department's headquarters station.

Public fire education and a proactive facility inspection campaign are administered by the twenty-five career firefighters at Fort Detrick. Mutual aid response areas include portions of Frederick City for suppression activities, and Frederick County and vicinity for hazardous material incident response.



Marine Corps Air Facility - Quantico, the home of the presidential helicopter fleet, operates an airport fire department staffed by military firefighters. A separate structural fire department staffed by civilian firefighters serves the Quantico marine installation.

From Firehouse.com:

About MCAF Quantico Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting - We operate out of one station ... 45 active duty US Marine Corps Fire Fighters. We provide the primary ARFF support to HMX-1 the Presidential Helicopter Squadron. Apparatus: 4, P-19A Crash Trucks, 1, P-26 5000 gallon Water Tanker, 2, Rescue vehicles, 1, Incident Command Vehicle, and other various support equipment.

From the MCAF web site:

Aviation first arrived at Quantico in July 1918, when two kite balloons were flown to spot artillery fire. These forerunners of today's spotter aircraft were soon augmented with the assignment of four seaplanes, which operated from the muddy junction of Chopawamsic Creek and the Potomac River.

In 1919, a flying field was laid out and the land leased to accommodate a squadron returning from World War I combat in Europe. The facility was later named Brown Field, in memory of 2ndLt Walter V. Brown, who lost his life in an early accident at that location. The present site was selected in 1931, when larger and faster planes brought recognition of the limitations and hazards of Brown Field - its single, crosswind runway, bound by trees, hills, swamp, a high tension line and a railroad.

A new airfield was constructed by changing the course and flow of Chopawamsic Creek and reclamation of the marshland from that area. The new facility was named Turner Field - after Colonel Thomas C. Turner, a veteran Marine aviator, who lost his life in Haiti in 1931.

By 1939, four squadrons - 68 bombers, scout bombers, fighters, transports, utility and observation planes - were based here. On 1 December 1941, the field was named Marine Corps Air Station, Quantico, and placed under operational control of the Commanding General, Marine Barracks.

In 1947, Marine Helicopter Squadron One was established at Quantico to pioneer an entirely new concept in air operation; to evaluate and test, in coordination with the Landing Force Development Center, the theory of carrying troops to the battle zone by helicopter.

By the close of the Korean conflict, helicopters had gained permanent acceptance by the military for tactical and logistical support operations.

Effective 15 November 1976, MCAS Quantico was re-designated as Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF), Quantico, Virginia. MCAF Quantico is currently the home of Headquarters Squadron (HqSqn) and Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1). HMX-1, in addition to its tactical development mission, flies the President of the United States and provides helicopter support for the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.


Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Company 45

The U.S. Army's Fort Meade Fire Department operates from one fire station.

From Firehouse.com:

43 personnel provide code enforcement, fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials and EMS first response. The department staffs 2 engine companies and a truck company. Each company has four personnel with an officer every day under the supervision of the Duty Chief. We cross staff a level A Haz Mat unit, an airport crash truck and a brush unit. Fort Meade also staffs two Paramedic units and an EMS Duty Officer. We respond automatically to assist Anne Arundel and Howard Counties.