A community process to determine the future of Fairlington’s 1940s-era, one-bay fire station has been on hold during the COVID crisis, but may be tackled later in the year, a top community leader says.
The Arlington government in late 2018 closed Fire Station #7 over concerns about the structural integrity of its flooring. Coverage of the Fairlington area was shifted to Fire Station #9, lo
cated on South Walter Reed Drive, with assistance from Alexandria units. The crew and apparatus from the Fairlington station were moved to Fire Station #4 in Clarendon.
With the firehouse unlikely to return to its original use, “county staff expect to revisit the gameplan for the station once the [County] Board has adopted the budget for next year . . . and the county has a better sense of the longer-term impact of COVID on county finances,” Fairlington Citizens Association president Guy Land said in a recent issue of the organization’s newsletter.
The organization “will work with the county to make sure our residents can weigh in on possible uses of the site,” Land said.
County officials closed Station #7 for what was then described as a temporary period in late October 2018 due to the structural concerns.
Officials announced in late 2019 that the facility would close as a fire station permanently, but could be used for other purposes.
In the spring of 2020, as the COVID crisis was starting to overshadow all aspects of daily life, then-County Board Chairman Libby Garvey told the Sun Gazette that while the planning effort had not been forgotten, it was not considered a top-priority issue.
“The process for determining next steps is on hold until further notice after we get through the worst of this pandemic locally,” Garvey said then.
(In 2021, Garvey handed over the chairmanship to Matt de Ferranti, but remains on the board.)
In announcing the permanent closure of the building as a firehouse, county officials noted that the total weight load on the main-level floor had increased 60 percent since its last major renovation in the 1980s. Some of the living quarters for firefighters at the station are located directly below the apparatus bay.
For years, personnel stationed at the Fairlington firehouse could be counted on to participate in local festivities, including the Independence Day celebration and providing a lights-flashing-and-sirens-wailing escort for Santa through Fairlington around Christmas.
Land noted that the crew of Fire Station #9 “have continued Station #7’s tradition of being engaged with the community.”