When the people of South Riding and Dulles South need a sheriff’s deputy or fire and rescue personnel, they only need to knock, Fire Chief Joseph Pozzo said.
"You might be on the wrong side, but we will get you pointed in the right direction and get you what you need," he said.
Pozzo, along with Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson, helped celebrate the opening of the new Dulles South Safety Center, Thursday evening. The center, which became operational May 7, is the county's first joint center, with facilities for both a Sheriff’s Office substation and the Dulles South Fire and Rescue Station for Company 19.
"There is only one first and this is our first facility that be manned 24 hours, seven days a week," Simpson said. "It is very needed and it is clear how very long overdue it is."
IN SEPTEMBER 2005, ground was broken for the 23,000-square-foot center on 4.7-acre site along Loudoun County Parkway, but the journey toward its opening began long before.
"This is only the third new fire and rescue station in Loudoun County since 1985," Doug Rambo, chairman of the fire and rescue commission, said. "And it is the first one that’s received substantial support from the local government."
The center is also the newest facility the Sheriff’s Office has received in decades.
In November 1999 voters approved the sale of general obligations bonds to fund the design, construction and equipping of the center. Since the winter of 2003, the Dulles South Fire and Rescue station operated out of a temporary, tented facility on Defender Drive off of South Riding Boulevard.
"It is facilities such as these that will help to offer peace to these communities," Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (I-At large) said.
"South Riding is a big, complicated community in much need of a quality facility to house our public-safety workers as they do their duty," Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) said. "This center stands as a symbol of our commitment to you and your families."
THE NEW 12,000-square-foot fire and rescue facility includes an apparatus bay, bunk rooms, a training room, bath and showers, kitchen and dining areas, laundry and decontamination rooms, storage, offices and a repair shop.
The station will house 20 career firefighters, a 24-hour manned fire engine and ambulance and a hazardous materials unit.
"We will be adding a ladder company in late summer or early fall," Pozzo said. The Route 50 battalion chief will also work out of the Dulles South center.
"This is a robust public-safety center," Pozzo said. "We are very lucky to have the support we have."
The Sheriff’s Office substation uses the remaining 11,000 square feet, creating a facility that is similar to the plans for the new substation in Cascades.
The station will have a complementary records department so deputies can look up accident reports, do background and criminal checks and fingerprinting without having to go into Leesburg. The substation also has holding cells for suspects awaiting transfer to the main jail in Leesburg. The building is outfitted with an itoxilyzer, for testing suspects’ blood alcohol level.
"The center will act as a model for other facilities in the county," Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg), chair of the board’s public safety committee, said.
THROUGHOUT THE evening’s celebration, speakers focused on the dedication of the men and women who will work out of the new Dulles South center and the service they will provide the people of the surrounding communities.
"We feel we can build the buildings and get the equipment on the ground, but it is the manpower and the volunteers that make such a difference," Clem said.
Getting choked up as the grand opening drew to a close Rambo thanked the deputies and fire and rescue personnel who were in attendance.
"You folks are the ones who put your necks on the line to make it safe for this community to sleep and who make it safe for my family," he said. "Thank you."