Having just celebrated its 100th Anniversary, Arlington Fire Station No. 8 has a historied past, dating back to 1918. It was then that a group of African American volunteer firefighters formed in the Hall’s Hill area, a neighborhood that began as home to many freed slaves. The neighborhood was segregated from the adjacent white communities by an 8’ wooden fence. To serve the neighborhood that other stations would not, the volunteer fire company acquired a 60-gallon chemical tank pulled by six men over the often muddy roads which was eventually housed on the grounds of the John Langston Elementary School.
In 1927, the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department (HHVFD) incorporated and relocated to a lot on Lee Highway where 25 cent donations from residents in the community would help fund their operations.
In 1932 the Arlington government began paying for the equipment and utilities of its volunteer companies and the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department received its first pumper. Two years later the department was relocated to 2209 North Culpeper Street where it became a de facto community center, providing a source for local news, and amenities such as a payphone and soda machine. To accommodate expanding shifts and additional volunteers, the fire department eventually added sleeping quarters and an area for recreation.
As the years progressed the Arlington Fireman’s Association was formed, initially excluding Hall’s Hill, and in 1940 a unified County fire department began to come together. The County began negotiating a pay rate for a professional fire staff however, it was not until 1951 that HHVFD (Arlington Fire Station No. 8) was assigned three paid professionals. Remaining an all African American fire station into the early 60’s the department still felt the effects of segregation, often not involved in calls outside of their own jurisdiction. Finally, in late 1962-early 1963 when ground broke for the new Arlington Fire Station No. 8 at 4845 Lee Highway, integration reached the Arlington County Fire Station and the crew prepared for their new larger station located next door. On June 17, 1963, the station opened with 17 paid firefighters and several volunteers.
Serving the community for over fifty years, the station and its crew have become an important part of this Arlington neighborhood. It is an honor to have been chosen for a project that will pay homage to the past while providing an updated and modern facility for this 21st century fire department and the community it serves.
*History and images provided by Arlington Public Library
For more information on the history of Fire Station No. 8 please visit:
Arlington Public Library
History-making Arlington firefighters reflect on their legacy