Fire engulfs historic firehouse near U.S. Capitol

December 18, 2023

Firefighters in Washington, D.C., faced a significant challenge on Friday as they combated a three-alarm fire at a historic site.

The fire began in a three-story former firehouse, which was undergoing renovations near the U.S.


Rapid response to historic site blaze

The fire erupted in Old Engine Company No. 12, a landmark historic site along North Capitol Street in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.

According to Vito Maggiolo, a spokesperson for the fire department, the fire may have been fueled by a gas line and had progressed significantly by the time firefighters arrived.

DC Fire and EMS reported that one firefighter declared a mayday but was rescued without injury.

An adjacent four-story building, part of a new complex connected to the firehouse, was also involved in the fire.

Several nearby homes were evacuated as a precaution.

Historic significance of Old Engine Company No. 12

Old Engine Company No. 12, built in 1896, represents a crucial piece of Washington, D.C.’s architectural and social history.

Situated in the Eckington neighborhood, the building is a prime example of the Dutch Revival style, designed by architect Snowden Ashford.

The firehouse, vacated by the fire department in 1987, had since been used by the Salvation Army and later transformed into a restaurant serving American fare​​.

Massive Effort to Contain the Fire

Approximately 25 fire trucks and 125 firefighters, including units from Montgomery County in Maryland, were deployed to tackle the blaze.

The rapid response and extensive resources underscored the severity of the situation.

FSJA Comment

The incident at Old Engine Company No. 12 is not just a case of a fire at a construction site but an event that touches on the preservation of historical architecture.

The building, a significant landmark in the Eckington neighborhood, embodies the late-Victorian, Queen Anne style prevalent during its construction era.

Its transition from a functional firehouse to a cultural and social venue over the years illustrates the adaptive reuse of historic buildings.

This incident also highlights the challenges in protecting such structures, especially during renovation.

The efficient response of the fire department in managing the situation without any injuries is commendable and demonstrates the importance of emergency preparedness in urban settings, particularly when dealing with heritage buildings.

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