Editor: We here at Lansdowne Woods had quite a scare last Saturday afternoon. A cigarette fire started on the third floor of the Potomac Ridge building where I live, and when I got home late in the afternoon, there were about a dozen fire and rescue trucks and several dozen firefighters all over our building. The residents were gathered in the lobby of the building and standing outside as the firefighters ensured the emergency had been fully resolved. The ladder truck had extended its ladder up to an open window on the third floor as a precaution.
I spoke with two firefighters later that evening, and asked them how high the ladder extended. They advised the ladder can reach the sixth or seventh floor depending on where the truck is placed at the base of the building—we have 11 floors. Seeing a look of concern on my face, they assured me their contingency plans and training ensured an effective response regardless of where in the building the emergency occurred. We can still smell the smoke throughout our building, and the water damage is extensive. Yet, I’m sure I speak for the entire Potomac Ridge community in expressing our sincerest and most heartfelt gratitude to the Ashburn Fire Department, Company 22, and all of the Loudoun County first responders who enabled us to avert a tragedy. They are real community heroes.
But there is a larger lesson here. We all understand the pressures Loudoun County’s growth over the past 20 years has placed on our budget, and there are, no doubt, a wide range of community services where we can afford to be frugal, perhaps even stingy. But adequate resources for our first responsders, and, most particularly, our fire and rescue teams, must be our highest priority. On Saturday we had a third-floor fire in an 11-story building housing a large population of senior citizens, many of whom have limited mobility. I consider that a near miss. We’re about to build two new urban communities with housing densities far greater and housing complexes taller then any we’ve seen in Loudoun County. Until our new communities are fully built out, our answer to budget requests from our fire chief should be pretty straight forward—”Yes!”
Mike Turner, Lansdowne
[Editor’s Note: The writer is a candidate for the Ashburn District seat on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors.]