The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. In 1949, the Board of Supervisors approved the hiring of firefighters for each of the volunteer stations.
In addition, supervisors approved the installation of a central fire-alarm system so police dispatchers “would dispatch the engines from the department or departments nearest the fire and this would eliminate a great deal of confusion,” officials said.
On July 1, 1949, the first 10 career firefighters were hired at an annual salary of $2,500. The first to be hired was Samuel Redmond, who was issued badge No. 1 and assigned to Station 1 in McLean.
Career firefighters were called “paid men” and served primarily as daytime apparatus drivers. The various chiefs of the volunteer departments would choose the personnel who would be hired by the county and ultimately work for their departments. This practice would continue for many years.
As members of their respective volunteer departments, these firefighters responded to “after hours” calls from their homes.
The department has grown exponentially since its inception. Today, the department is a career and volunteer organization providing services such as fire suppression, emergency medical care, technical rescue, hazardous-materials response, water rescue, life-safety education, fire prevention and arson investigation.
There are approximately 1,400 career firefighters, 170 civilians and 370 operational volunteers making the department the largest fire department in Virginia and one of the best in the nation, officials said.