There's a brand-new member of the Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company's team: Rescue 421. And with state and county dignitaries on hand, it was dedicated, Saturday morning, in high style at Fair Oaks' Station 21.
"It's the culmination of almost two years of work," said the company's chief, Jonathan Wood. "I think the shifts and crews that run it will be real happy with this."
Built by Marion Body Works in Wisconsin, the heavy-rescue vehicle is 21 feet long, 42,000 pounds and cost nearly $480,000. It was funded by donations from residents and businesses in the Fair Oaks, Fair Lakes, Reston, Herndon, Chantilly, Centreville and Oakton communities.
"It's basically a big toolbox," explained Station 21 Rescue Lt. William Best. "It's used for technical rescues from structural collapses and confined spaces, as well as trench and swift-water rescues."
The white vehicle with the blue stripe replaces a 1987 model that had 220,000 miles on it. But it took quite awhile for its specifications, bidding, contracting and construction to be completed.
"What strikes me most is — not just the amount of money raised — but the commitment and time it took to bring this apparatus here," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). And acknowledging how much time the volunteer firefighters "put in, day in and day out," he said, "We do truly appreciate what all the members of the fire department do, all across the country."
Supervisor Gerry Connolly (D-Providence), who volunteers at Garfield's Station 30, stressed that volunteers "save the taxpayers billions of dollars, in terms of the funds they raise." And Martha Duane, treasurer for Fair Oaks' volunteers, told the fire and rescue personnel gathered Saturday, "Thank all of you for making our community a little safer. It makes us feel more secure."
Wood and Mark Servello, president of the Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, presented the vehicle, along with the politicians. Also recognized for their work with the new vehicle were Sgt. Brian Pelletier and Deputy Chief Dominic De Paolis with Station 21's volunteers, Master Technicians Matt Groff and John Mayers, with the county Fire and Rescue Department and Capt. Gary Pope, now at Station 36.
Also on hand for the ceremony were Delegates Gary Reese (R-67th) and Jeannemarie Devolites (R-35th), plus Fairfax County Deputy Fire Chief Glen Benarick.