The Past and The Future of Station 8

The Past and The Future of Station 8

Arlington County Fire Station 8 has been no stranger to the Arlington community. This station has routinely shown up at school events and has responded to emergencies for students, staff and neighbors. Recently, the Fire Station No.8 Task Force took initiative to build a new station.

In the 1890’s, Halls Hill was established as an area for Black servants to live. There were only a few fire stations in Arlington County, and none of them served the Hall’s Hill neighborhood. The lack of response left residents to fend for themselves.

In 1918, a group of Black men from Halls Hill came together and created a new fire station. They called it the Halls Hill Volunteer Fire Department (HHVFD). This department became the first all Black staffed station in Arlington.

In 1944, the Hicks family, who were well known Black business owners, signed a deed for the land at 2209 North Culpeper. The deed read, “Trustees of the Arlington County Fire Department Engine No. 8.” This was the beginning of what we now know of as Station 8.

In 1954, the firefighters at Station 8 began receiving payment. However, because of the color of their skin, their legitimacy as a fire station was ignored within the white community and they were never dispatched to any major fires. 1957 marked a milestone when Alfred Clark, who worked at Station 8, became the first Black fire captain.

In 1962, Station 8 decided to relocate to 4845 Lee Highway, now Langston Blvd. The deed was rewritten by the Hicks family, and to this day, the station remains on this land. After a year, the doors opened with 17 staff members, brand new rigs, and dispatch technology. This brought a renewed sense of inspiration and eagerness to help the community.

Station 8 was beginning to gain respect throughout the community, yet there were occasional moments where they were still ignored. During the 1968 riots that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, there was mass chaos and destruction, but Station 8 was never called to the scene for support.

Starting in 1999, Arlington County discussed the possibility to relocate or possibly even close Station 8 because of issues with the plot sizing and the large flow of traffic on Lee Highway. From 2000-2012, studies were conducted to determine how this traffic issue has affected the response time to calls.

In 2015, the Fire Station No. 8 Task Force used the information collected over the years to try to find a new location for this historical station. After many meetings and urging from the Halls Hill community, the county board decided to keep the station on Langston Blvd but change the layout of the building.

“The old Fire Station 8 was really outdated for the new technology and equipment and the building was starting to deteriorate,” Fire/EMS Captain II and Station Commander Myron Richardson said.

The new plan is to rebuild the station to include a new four-bay layout and upgrade the firefighting technology and equipment. Many questions arose about whether or not the new station would take away from the history, but Richardson feels that the history will always be present.

“The history is the people, and the history is that the new Fire Station 8 is being rebuilt on the existing site. There have been interviews with the original seven firefighters…, with the children of the original seven firefighters and community members of Halls Hill to preserve this rich history on a video monitor in the lobby,” Richardson said.

Residents of Halls Hill had to come together as a community to keep Station 8 on Langston Blvd, and the firefighters at Station 8 are beyond thrilled for the new station.

“We are tremendously excited to have a new Fire Station 8. It’s been a long time coming. Since we spend a considerable amount of time with our co-workers, the new Fire Station 8 should be like a home away from home. I can’t think of any reasons not to be elated about having a new Fire Station. The new design is nice, secure and comfortable,” Richardson said.

Given the rich history of Halls Hill and the deep sense of community intertwined with the station, Captain Richardson and his crew are excited for the grand opening and for the future of Station 8.

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Olivia Pang, Reporter
Olivia Pang is reporting for the first time as a sophomore. She has previously worked on the yearbook at Williamsburg Middle School. She enjoys playing soccer in her free time as well as traveling the world with her family. Olivia has been writing for many years and is looking forward to continuing for The Sentry.

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