News
Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association
Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Dear ODHFS members – the oldest continuous operating fire museum in Virginia is always looking for new members. Now is a good time to join and membership offers discounted admissions and a monthly newsletter with very interesting history of the Alexandria, Va. FD. ODHFS is a partner with the Friendship Fire Museum. We have participated with apparatus in some of their events in the past.

Of note is their annual breakfast meeting followed by The Alexandria President’s Day Parade, which ODHFS used to be a regular participant. Of course it is held each year on President’s Day, which is February 17, 2020.

Last year, Debbie & I checked off one of my bucket list items by attending the breakfast meeting. We traveled to Alexandria the afternoon before (Sunday), had a room at a close by Holiday Inn, a wonderful dinner at an excellent waterfront restaurant and walked to the meeting the next morning. Yes it is a meeting BUT the breakfast was wonderful, the guest speaker was fantastic and we met quite a few folks we had not had the opportunity to meet before and never would if not for this event.

While there, my thoughts centered around “wouldn’t it be nice if ODHFS sponsored a table and we had a group of us there instead of just Deb & myself”?

If you have an interest in attending this coming year, please RSVP to me so I can start to put together a list of ODHFS attendees.

On an additional note – The ODHFS for years participated in the President’s Day Parade with our apparatus. For some unknown reason, we gradually stopped attending this event. It would be wonderful if the Northern Region picked up this event and starting making our presence known once again. Yes, the weather can be dicey or a bit cold, but that can add to the memories!

Please consider joining The Friendship Firehouse as a member and they are also accepting donations for the restoration of their hand pumper.

Hope to hear from some of you about joining & attending the President’s Day Breakfast & Parade!

Tommy Herman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From: Bill Kehoe [mailto:kehoefd@aol.com]
Subject: Friendship Newsletter

Friendship Members,

Our Historian Catherine Weinraub has written another superb article on the history of the fire service in Alexandria, see below.

As we approach the end of the calendar year if you want to make a tax deductible donation to Friendship, please do so. We are beginning to assemble funds to finance the restoration of the hand-drawn pumper.

The Board of Trustees wish every Friendship member a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

Bill Kehoe, Secretary-Treasurer
Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association

4611 Strathblane Pl, Alexandria, VA 22304

703-751-6416
703-258-4473

kehoefd@aol.com

Fire is Everyone's Fight

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sound the Alarm:

The Need for a Fire Alarm System

Beginning in the 1830s, but especially the 1850s, Engine Houses replaced sheds and bells were still used to summon men to their stations for equipment and to the fire As the City of Alexandria expanded, bells could be rung for the appropriate Ward (the town was divided into four), but without an address confusion ensued. Unfortunately, many people called into the Police Department with a wrong address or as a prank, sending firemen on a wild goose chase. By 1915, the push for a fire alarm system was underway, “The need of an adequate fire alarm system for Alexandria was demonstrated last night when the apparatus of the various fire companies was sent in all directions in answer to an alarm of fire. …The three companies each went in different directions as the location of the fire had not been made clear in the telephone communication[i].

In July of 1916 the almost exact same words were written, but went on to say every time apparatus was sent out, it cost the city $25. Cost was an issue and a special committee investigating fire conditions in Alexandria recommended to City Council installing a fire telegraph alarm, electrical inspections, a revision of building laws, “that unless action is taken there would be an increase in fire insurance rates in the city which would mean the payment of about $20,000 additional in premiums by property owner[ii].”

While the debate of installing an alarm went on for a few more years, neighboring towns made the progressive move. The town of Potomac was charted in 1908 and annexed by Alexandria in 1930. They received their alarm system by 1914, “The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company has arranged for a system of fire alarms for the town of Potomac by which fire alarms will be transmitted to three places in the town in case of fire[iii].”

The fire alarm system only not just helped the paid firefighters, but it impacted the volunteer department as well “The duty of sounding these alarms rests upon the policeman on night duty but most of the time they are not in the vicinity of the fire stations and sometimes it is probably ten minutes before a bell is rung. When a fire is in progress men are needed quickly and it is folly to rely on the antiquated system longer. The volunteer firemen of the city are keenly interested and anxious to know what sort of a report the joint committees on finance and fire will make to City Council tonight[iv].”

By 1920, it appears that the alarm system was underway, at least at one of the stations, “Resolution appropriating $200 for installing lighting alarm system at Columbia engine house was referred to joint committee on fire and finance. It may have already been installed as on the same day, the Alexandria Gazette also mentioned appropriation of $200 to repair the electric and fire alarm system[v]. The following year City Council agreed to make appropriations for the purchase and installation of a combination fire and police alarm system. “Fire officials and police officials recognize the need of such a system and its installation it is pointed out would be of great benefit and savings to the city in every respect. Such a system is badly need here[vi]

A new system was needed to get the City’s firemen to a blaze. When technology changed and improved, Alexandria incorporated the equipment into the structure of the department. Over time this saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless lives.


[i] Want Alarm System. Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia). 15 Mar 1915. 2.

[ii] Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia). 24 Nov 1915. 1.

[iii] Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia). 12 Mar 1914. 1

[iv] The Automatic Fire Bell (Communicated). Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia). 26 Oct 1920. 2.

[v] Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia). 11 Feb 1920. 1.

[vi] Police and Fire Alarm: City Council Will be Asked to Make Appropriations for Such. Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia). 14 Feb 1921. 1.

Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association
×picture
145 entries in the News
Sunday, June 28th, 2020
picture
A couple of ODHFS Central Region rigs rolled out on June 20th to honor a WW II Vet who just turned 100 years young. A drive through parade with a motorcycle group and a couple of fire trucks went right by the front door of his care facility.
Sunday, June 14th, 2020
picture
ODHFS Central Region MembersThe calendar title says it is another month, but our Association's activities calendar is still stuck on March. All the parades and events that I know of that ODHFS members would normally be interested in have all been canceled thru July with one exception.
Sunday, June 14th, 2020
picture
We’ve had a some activity this past month in the region and also a couple of upcoming events to report on. So let’s get to the good stuff.Region NewsMember Jim Larson got out and about and was able introduce his “SQURT 2” to a few folks at a social distancing Cars and Coffee...
Sunday, May 17th, 2020
picture
ODHFS Central Region MembersFor those of you that have never watched the movie "Groundhog Day", if your life has been like mine lately, there is no need to watch the movie; we have been living the movie day after day.
Sunday, May 17th, 2020
picture
As your incoming Northern Region Director, I feel a little introduction is needed. I’m David Gantt, I’ve been a member of the ODHFS for 10 years now, also about 4 more years a long time ago.
picture
We regret to report that the ODHFS received word this morning that ODHFS Member Joe Mellender's wife, Thelma, passed away yesterday afternoon, May 7, 2020. They were married for 64 years and Thelma would have been 84 at the end of this month.
Tuesday, April 7th, 2020
picture
Good afternoon folks,Sad news to report today on the passing of Daniel Hottel, a longtime member of the Woodstock Fire Department (Shenandoah County, Virginia) and ODHFS member.The Woodstock Fire Department did a wonderful job on their Facebook page of communicating the passing of Mr.
Saturday, March 7th, 2020
picture
ODHFS Central Region MembersFirst, welcome to our newest member of ODHFS in the Central Region, Bill Elliott. Bill served many years in the Chesterfield County Fire Department as a volunteer then career firefighter.
picture
Hi folks,I think 2020 is going to be a great year for ODHFS and our antique fire truck hobby. I bet some trucks got some TLC with the recent warmer February weather. As I try and do each month, here are some quick highlights and key dates to keep in mind for our Northern Region ODHFS team:Some upd...
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
picture
Dear ODHFS members – the oldest continuous operating fire museum in Virginia is always looking for new members. Now is a good time to join and membership offers discounted admissions and a monthly newsletter with very interesting history of the Alexandria, Va.
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
picture
ODHFS Central Region Members:First I want to welcome to ODHFS and the Central Region several new members who have joined in the last few months: Johnny Shelton; David Silvestro; Billy Greer; William Boissean; Stephen Filarsky; and Joe Reid.
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
picture
PURYEAR, Gerald Linwood "Jerry," 77, of Glen Allen, passed away peacefully on November 15, 2019. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence L. and Gladys Louise Puryear; and brother, Robert S.
Friday, November 15th, 2019
Hi folks,Just wanted to share some miscellaneous news items as it relates to the Old Dominion Historical Fire Society (ODHFS) and our Northern Region.New ODHFS MembersFirst up, we have had several new members join ODHFS.
Sunday, November 3rd, 2019
picture
ODHFS Central Region Members:Since my last newsletter I received information on the Prince George Parade which is now listed below. Also, ODHFS received a request by someone in Henrico that wants "to hire" an antique fire apparatus to attend their son's 4th birthday party that will...
Sunday, October 27th, 2019
picture
Welcome! We have a new member in our Northern Region – welcome to Willie Shelton Jr. in the Fredericksburg area. Thank you Willie for your interest in the ODHFS and we look forward to meeting with you at an ODHFS event, parade, muster, etc.Also a Congratulations to our President Tom Herman a...
Monday, October 21st, 2019
picture
I know this is a long shot, but we are trying to find out any info on Lyn-Dan Heights (VA) first fire engine. This year is their 60th anniversary. It was a Lyn-Dan Heights engine from Campbell County, VA.
picture
A longtime very active member who served as Trustee, Vice President and Senior Vice President of SPAAMFAA as well as serving on many committees, has passed away. He also was a life long member of the Maryland Fire Service.
Sunday, August 4th, 2019
picture
Old Dominion Historical SocietyEastern RegionGreeting from the Eastern District. This is a reminder that we have a few parades coming up in the near future. Also, I need some input from the members of the district on improving the growth of our club.
picture
ODHFS Central Region Members;Welcome to the newest ODHFS members in the Central Region:Hunter FisherBud LaceyRichard KnightJoshua FitzgeraldI hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. We had a great showing at the Brandermill Community parade with 9 apparatus participating.Up-coming events in the C...
Sunday, July 7th, 2019
picture
Apple Blossom 2019 Wrap UpA group of the ODHFS folks in the Northern Region who coordinate and plan Apple Blossom each year met to “debrief” our 2019 event that was held on May 4th. I am impressed with this team that looks at ways to improve and streamline our biggest Northern Region ev...
145 entries in the News

© 2022 The Old Dominion Historical Fire Society