Neighborhood firefighters celebrate centennial

Engine 23 firefighters got a break from emergency calls Saturday as they joined the community to mark the firehouse’s 100th birthday.

From tours of the century-old firehouse at 2119 G St., to an extensive outdoor barbecue, many members of the city and GW community attended the celebration, including University President Steven Knapp.

“We’ve had a good partnership, and of course we love having the firehouse here because they’re a part of the community,” Knapp said.

Knapp spoke with both retired and actively serving firefighters of Engine 23, and noted that GW didn’t move to Foggy Bottom until 1912, about two years after the firehouse was established.

“They’re a little ahead of us in the neighborhood,” Knapp said. “If we ever have a problem, it’s nice to have your own fire department right here.”

Ellie Becker, a self-proclaimed friend of the station, was involved in planning and promoting the event. While there, someone caught her eye from across the room – one of her old firefighter friends Mike Blair. Blair served at Firehouse 23 for 15 years, and had not seen Becker since.

“Seeing so many old friends here is just wonderful . . . I’m so glad Mike came,” Becker said.

Other former members of Engine 23 also attended the celebration.

“It’s really good to come back and see everything and everyone. It’s been awhile,” Capt. Louis Carter, who served at the station for 10 years, said.

Recent construction has given the aging firehouse a needed facelift, from new paint to new flooring and even new cement.

Firefighter technician John Ellis – who firefighters described as the “brain” of the renovation – said the rehabilitation projects were completed just in time, ending at 11 p.m. the night before the centennial event.

Ellis came up with tasks for each shift of firefighters to complete, from painting to cleaning. Outside repairs were followed by interior work, and new flooring was just installed with the help of a carpenter.

A few D.C. Council members also turned out for the party, including Phil Mendelson and David Catania, who addressed the crowd.

Mendelson said it was nice to be able to say thanks to the firefighters, and noted that, “the firefighters had to go into their own pockets to pull this off.”

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