The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department increased its potential by incorporating a maintenance facility in the Newington area, catering to a growing part of the county.
The new building has four bays for vehicles, one of which is extra long for the fire trucks with the long ladders, known as hook and ladders.
Rich Dodge, an apparatus mechanic II, will be one of the mechanics operating out of Newington.
"This one bay, since it's so long, we don't have to stand outside. Where the other shops only have two bays, this has four," he said.
At the ribbon-cutting Saturday, Sept. 28, supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) had a hand on the scissors and the effort to get the facility built. Although it's in the Mount Vernon district, it will serve Springfield, Burke and Penn Daw stations, as well as relieve existing maintenance facilities.
"It fits here. It allows our mechanics to operate under optimum conditions. Most importantly, the mechanics have the equipment and space," he said.
The maintenance facility at West Ox Road, by the fire academy, was the main facility. When the vehicles were traveling all the way from southern Springfield, Lorton and Mount Vernon areas to get repaired, time and fuel were wasted. When fire trucks are in the shop, they will also be able to temporarily use trucks that are stored on the Newington property.
Spokesperson Lt. Lorenzo Thrower noted the savings.
"It allows for equipment to come in and get repaired quicker. They will house the reserve apparatus here, so they can pick up another reserve apparatus," he said.
The facility cost $3.4 million and took just over one year to complete, though it was planned years before.
Capt. Gary Pope, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, noted the new facility's flexibility. Although it is a county fire department, it will handle some volunteer fire department equipment and certain police-car jobs.
"We do work on county-owned equipment as well as volunteer equipment. We're hoping this is an improvement, not only to the fire department but to the citizens," Pope said.
Hyland noted the reputation of the Fairfax Fire Department around the country.
"Fairfax County and their fire department have the reputation of being No. 1," he said.
The facility is on county property where school buses are maintained, which is at Newington Road and Cinder Bed Road in Newington, although the mailing address is Lorton. It is 19,000 square feet, has a 188.5-foot bay and a 5-ton bridge crane to lift heavy objects such as water tanks. It also has a state-of-the-art welding device, an 88-ton hydraulic break capable of bending large pieces of metal, a pump test and a vast parts-storage section, according to fire department officials. It is an apparatus repair and chassis maintenance facility, putting both shops in one building, according to Jim Gorby, director of Vehicle Services in the county.
"We will now have chassis maintenance and pumper maintenance on the same facility. It will save a heck of a lot of mileage on the trucks," he said.
Now the West Ox facility will undergo some improvements within the next two years.