Proposed Temporary Fire Station at 10th and Rhode Island Ave, NW


“Dear PoPville,

I received a flyer in my mailbox informing us that the District government is proposing to erect a temporary fire station at 10th Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue, NW (adjacent to the Shaw Rec Center basketball courts and next to Old City Guild). The engines and ambulances from the station on 13th St NW (between K and L Streets) will be temporarily relocated to this location while the existing fire station undergoes renovations. The emergency vehicles will be required to use their lights and sirens when exiting the temporary 2,730 foot structure and will be on call 24-hours-per-day. The temporary fire station is expected to be in operation for 14 months (from July 2014-September 2015).

This area of Shaw/Logan is primarily residential and quiet, and the sirens will be extremely disruptive both to nearby residents and students at Seaton Elementary directly across the street. If any of your readers have any opinions either way, they should send an email to ANC Commissioner Alexander Padro ([email protected]). The relocation will be discussed at tonight’s ANC 6E public meeting, 6:30 pm at the Northwest One Library (155 L Street NW, at NJ Avenue) and he will voice any concerns at that time.”

49 Comment

  • The current firehouse uses Mass Ave as a main artery through the city. To get to Mass Ave from this proposed location, will they come down 10th St NW (which is a one-way residential street) or will they use RI Ave to Logan Circle, then cut down 13th? Either way, this will be disruptive to a lot of people. The current station is in a commercial corridor. This location is smack-dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

  • Shaw will be fine. If anything, this will help improve response times to Bloomingdale and Shaw, which have seen their fair share of devastating home fires over the last few years. The dense row house blocks can quickly flame up and spread to adjoining units. The noise and lights are a necessary evil of urban living.

    • +1, NIMBYism at its best/worst

    • Let’s face it, though: the siren noise is enhanced, and used in the middle of the night along deserted streets when the only possible semiotic point could be: “Hey you people! We’re working for our salaries! Hear?”

      • This is true. In New York city (yeah, I hate the NYC comparisons as much as anyone but hear me out) they manage to drive through at night without the sirens.

  • My advice: deal with it for a whole 14 months. This isn’t a nightclub, it’s a public service provider.

  • Prado’s flier isn’t quite true. They aren’t required by law to have their lights and sirens on when they leave the house. Perfect example is Co. 21 on Lanier (a small, residential one-way street). After working with the neighbors on concerns, the trucks on call don’t turn on their sirens until they just about hit the intersection of Lanier/Adams Mill/Calvert. The firehouse has been there for more than 100 years and except for a few shrill NIMBYs who live across the street (and obviously moved in long after the firehouse was built) most folks like having 21 in the neighborhood. I also shudder to think of what would have happened to the Avalon (2707 Adams Mill) had 21 not been around the corner and able to respond in under a minute.

    • Agreed. I live next to the firehouse on Dent Place, a small residential street in Georgetown and they are great neighbors. They don’t turn on their sirens until they reach the corner of 34th and Q Streets. I live on the first floor and their trucks are definitely loud when they roll by, but it’s not a big deal. I like having them nearby.

  • Seriously people? It’s temporary and it’s a needed service.

    And before you can say, “Yeah, you try living across from a fire house,” I do. And you know what? It’s fine. I’d rather live with the inconvenience and know that lives might be saved because of it.

    Unless you’re ill across from a fire house and need help and the probie on duty won’t help you. But that’s another story.

    • I used to live across from a fire house, and moved not far from here to get away from it. As anyone who lives on Mass Ave near the current station can attest, it’s constant sirens all the time. This is the largest fire house in DC, and one of the most active.

    • I lived across from the U/17th Street firehouse for 3 years. Yeah, the noise kinda sucks but overall it was fine. And the guys were always nice, sitting out in front of the station. It was nice to have them on the street – it kept the riff-raff away.

    • +1 – i lived at 16th and U, right next to the firehouse for several years, and it really wasnt that bad – and if it’s only 14 months, for a necessary service, I’m inclined towards the ‘deal with it’ camp…

  • I wonder if these fools would object to the sirens if their houses were on fire. Assholes.

  • Oh geez, don’t unnecessarily make the Fire Department’s job harder because you’re worried about your precious beauty sleep. It’s temporary. People live everywhere in a city. Suck it up and be a decent citizen for 14 months. The sooner you stop whining and let them do their renovation, the sooner they can get to their home and it’s in the interest of all citizens for them to have modern and adequate facilities. I’ve lived near a DC fire department and honestly it’s not that bad.

    • Living within earshot of the Trinidad fire house, I can totally agree. Yeah, it’s annoying especially at night but you get used it. And it’s not like they turn it up screaming full blast every single time. Usually they just turn it on for a second or so for a low pitched growl when exiting so it’s not so loud. When there’s traffic, they definitely get it going so everyone driving on the street hears it.

  • I think the concern is less about the residents, than about the proximity of the school. Does anybody know approximately how often an average “horns blaring” event is likely to occur? I could see this having a serious impact on the students if this is something that typically happens multiple times a day. If it’s actually less than that — a few times a week during school hours — then I would see this as a reasonable, temporary solution, with potential benefits to people in close proximity to the temporary station.

    • When I lived near 13th and L, it seemed like Engine 16/Tower 3 was always on the move. Because they have one of the ladder trucks and are the water supply for Battalion 6, they service most of the downtown calls.

    • Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?!?!

      Just stop it. This is NIMBYism at its ugliest.

      • Actually it’s not. Please re-read what I said. Then maybe spend a few days in an urban school so that you can see what challenges the students already face. Then ask yourself what the impact of frequent , disruptive loud noises might be. Then do a cost benefit analysis based on other possible locations for the fire station.

  • Fire chief Ellerbe mentioned that they “must” use the lights and sirens at the last ANC meeting. That being said, suck it up. It’s temporary and it could be your house they are saving.

  • Every time I visit another city (even some that are far denser than DC), I am awed by the conspicuous silence. When I return to DC, I am reminded how many sirens there are in this town and what a disruption they are. It actually doesn’t matter how close you live to a station – emergency vehicles are everywhere, and they are incredibly noisy. It always seems like they’re going “code three” even if there’s nothing blocking their way. It’s not about NIMBYism – sirens are in everyone’s “back yard”. This deserves more discussion.

    • Yeah, because no one is this city is the slightest bit interested in getting out of the way of an emergency vehicle. In other cities I’ve lived in, ambulances don’t have to stop at every intersection and gingerly tiptoe through for fear that someone is going to ignore the flashing lights and siren and barrel on through because they have the green light and screw everyone else.

    • +1. A group of folks in Columbia Heights tried to get the fire dept. to turn down the sirens this summer. Not sure what became of that.

  • I live on 13th Street. i hear these sirens all the time. It’s not the end of the world. I heard them when I lived on Ontario Road in Adams Morgan. Oh! The Children! they will hear sirens! I think they’ll survive just fine. This clown needs hobbies and residents of his ANC need to elect someone who’s not some pearl clutching child.

    • Relax. He’s doing his job and keeping his constituents informed.

    • I live on 8th Street SE, a major street just a couple blocks up the street from a fire station. I don’t think the amount of noise is any worse than it was when I lived in a “quiet” community in Fairfax County.

  • I’m surprised at the tone of this flyer as Padro is normally pretty thoughtful and reasonable, which is saying a lot compared to other commissioners in this city.

    • You got that right. In 5E, a couple of the commissioners make fools of themselves time after time. Then refuse to allow the minutes to reflect their misbehavior, or even the rough content of their outbursts. When the minutes of meetings are released, half a year late, they report only of how “X and Y walked out”. Over, for example, the minutes. Then half of the following meeting’s time is taken up by the same fools trying to overturn previous decisions.

      Be glad you live where you live.

  • As someone who went to an elementary school directly next to a fire station, I can attest that they are not that disruptive to classrooms. Besides, it made for easy field trips and great additions to assemblies (bike safety, car seat checks, basic first aid).

  • Is this not a definitive example of NIMBYism? This is an essential service that could, by the way, keep the complainant’s home from going up in flames.

    • …Said the person who doesn’t live across the street from a fire station that wasn’t there when they purchased their home. I understand this is temporary, and I certainly see the benefits to the community. But I can also understand why this would be frustrating to people who live across the street (and could be distracting to the elementary school kids at Seaton).

      On a related note, will anything ever be done with the vacant Shaw Middle School?

      • either way it’s the definitive example. “these are things that are needed, things that i need, but i don’t want them near where i live.”

        thats exactly the mentality that the hazardous waste industries were describing when they coined the term.

        • Of course, the difference is that hazardous waste is a legitimate health concern. The crybaby here is complaining that sirens might disrupt their beauty sleep for a few months. I feel like during the closing process, the city needs to force people to sign a disclosure “I recognize that I am purchasing real estate in a city. I understand that, in a city, there are people other than myself, and that the city government exists not only to cater to my personal selfish whims.”

          • It’s funny-the usual response people get when they complain about noise from fire stations is “if you don’t like it, you shouldn’t have bought a house across from one.” Can’t really use that response in this instance. And 14 months (if all goes according to schedule, which it rarely does when you’re dealing with DC gov’t) is better than forever, but it certainly isn’t an insignificant amount of time. Especially for the residents of the condos across the street. I do like that it will probably make the area safer though. That empty stretch of RI Ave can be creepy at night.

      • But the alternative would only be to situate the temporary fire station somewhere else and burden someone else with the noise, and that’s just not good enough of a reason not to put the station at this location.

        And I get to experience the soothing sounds of the Howard Hospital ambulances, so I know me some sirens.

  • You know what are also disruptive?


    • If they only responded to fires, that would be one thing. These days, they send an engine or two to pretty much every emergency call. Which in DC is a lot.

  • I would completely oppose locating a fire station here permanently, but for a year or so it would not be that bad, and it’s better than just closing the existing station down for renovations for a year and having longer response times to fires in our neighborhood. I would, however, want some sort of guarantee that once this specific renovation is complete, that this temporary building will be torn down, and not used as a temporary home for another nearby station that may need renovations, or as a “temporary” new police station, or library, or some other such thing.
    I saw that type of thing happen in a town I used to live in – they built some ugly monstrosity when they were renovating the police station. Then, when the police moved out, the fire department moved in when they renovated their station. Then, they moved out and it became a facility for another government office. Overall, the “temporary” building was there for years, and if everyone had known it was going to be a revolving door of “temporary” facilities in a relatively permanent building, they would have sought a much different arrangement in the outset.

  • Um, the proposed site is on a hideously busy traffic sewer, and in between schools and a playground. What “residential” anything are we talking about? Oh — and do you have a better suggestion, or is NiMBy just the reflex?

  • Nomrally I am anti-NIMBY (like the whiners in the Iowa) but if I lived there, I would fight it tooth and nail. In DC, “temporary” often becomes permanent and nothing like a firehouse to kill your property value. If this was the only option, I could see why-but is it? The Fire Department management is so incompetent–ignoring and letting people die literally across the street from a fire station and having ambulances break down regularly–I wonder if they gave it a thorough evalution.

    ***Why don’t they put it on the big empty lot next to City Center?*** Also, what does a “temporary” fire house look like? I can see them easily building something semi-permanent and then deciding to sell the prime commercial property on 13th claiming that it is too expensive to retrofit.

    • You’re anti-NIMBY except when it applies to essential public services near your backyard? I’m sorry, buddy, but then you’re not anti-NIMBY. That’s like saying I’m anti-gun, except for all my revolvers.

  • I live at New Hampshire and V (between 15th and 16th), the fire trucks from the nearby station use my street all the time and drive right by my 2nd floor window. Its not really a big disruption; you tune it out. I see how they need something close to downtown in case their is a fire.

  • In case anyone is wondering, the ANC voted against locating the temporary fire station at this location.

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