Carol Bleving is looking forward to cooking in the new kitchen at the Vienna Fire Station. The former kitchen was original to the station, which was built in 1958.
“It will be nice to reach the bottom of the sink, to have something new and fresh,” said Bleving, referring to the deep sinks found in the old kitchen.
A 12-year veteran at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, Bleving is vice president of the auxiliary unit. “I don’t cook for my own family, but I cook here, especially on bingo nights," she said.
Fellow volunteer and EMS Capt. Anthony Stancampiano, also the bingo chairman, shares Bleving’s enthusiasm for the fire station renovations.
“I’m most excited about the new living room, bunk room and bingo hall," he said. "It will be a more professional and modern looking [bingo] hall so we can rent it out for weddings, birthday parties, etc."
In the middle of a $2.8 million renovation, the Vienna Fire Station received a financial shot-in-the-arm on Monday, Aug. 8, as Del. Steve Shannon (D-35) presented the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department with a $50,000 state grant.
“It’s something we can do for Vienna,” said Shannon, during Monday's ceremony. Obtaining the additional state funding was one of his top priorities during the past legislative session and he attributed his interest in helping the fire station to Mayor M. Jane Seeman and Councilwoman Maud Robinson.
“I’m really impressed with the number of volunteer hours and the number of volunteers from town who make it the Vienna Fire Department," Seeman said. "It’s a real hometown effort."
“We got the largest grant of any fire station in Virginia," said Howard Springsteen, president of VVFD. He added that it was a matched grant, meaning that in order to cash the state’s $50,000 check, the fire department had to raise $50,000 as well. “As of Aug. 2, we accomplished that goal,” he said.
"The [Vienna] station was struggling for money," said Gene Jacob, chairman of the Capital Campaign Committee, which is responsible for raising money for the building fund. “We got some good advice from various local business people. We also appeal to the community for participation.”
Jacob, who is also a volunteer firefighter and EMT, received a commendation from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, presented by Shannon on behalf of the House of Delegates as the volunteer firefighter of the year. Jacob was honored for 1,004 hours of volunteer service in Vienna, Fairfax, Springfield, Burke and Fair Oaks.
PLANNING FOR the renovations began in 1995 and didn’t get off the ground until 2000, when the project was divided into phases due to the cost associated with the proposed changes.
“The first thing we did was raise the front doors so the fire trucks could fit through, costing about $200,000,” said Springsteen.
“Imagine a fire station without a sprinkler system in place.” said Springsteen, describing the improvements made in Phase II. “We sprinkled the building, put in a new staircase, new heaters, and added a new public restroom.”
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) secured $1.5 million in bond funds to help pay for Phase II.
The current and final phase costs $2.8 million and is scheduled to be completed in six months. This phase will include a better decontamination room, two kitchens (one downstairs and one upstairs), a gym, an improved men’s dormitory, storage and women’s facilities.
The Vienna Fire Station was among the first to welcome women career personnel, but that meant that they would need living quarters because the fire station is staffed 24 hours a day. Stancampiano expressed relief that the female living quarters and new storage and offices were underway. “We [had to] put up walls for the women, there were no facilities," he said.
Prior to the renovations, Stancampiano said, the fire chief’s office functioned as a volunteer office and a home for files and storage items.
With the funds from the state grant and through the ongoing efforts of the Capital Campaign Committee, community donations, and bingo, the Vienna Fire Station will be able to increase its space by 80 percent.
“If you had seen the old station, you would have had a heart attack," Springsteen said. "It was in pretty bad shape. We’re going from one of the worst [fire] stations in the county as far as living conditions to one of the best.”