|The station in the 1950s. I believe the fire engine on the left is a 1951 Mack. Photo from SSVFD website|
The modest 1 & 1/2 story brick building was constructed some time in 1947 to serve the growing Four Corners community. It was the SSVFD's first sub-station, with the primary station being in Downtown Silver Spring (the former Station 1, which is now a restaurant and bar). It was built as a home response station, meaning it had few or no living quarters. Back when Four Corners was a less built-up place, the volume of emergency calls was much lower than it is today. There didn't need to be personnel staffing the station at all times. When a fire call came in, the large "air raid" siren on top of the fire station would sound, alerting volunteers in the surrounding neighborhoods, who would then drive (or run) to the station and get on the fire engines. There were no paid staff at the station back then.
|The old station during what appears to be an open house, 1950s. Photo from SSVFD website.|
For most of its service life, the station was home to two fire engines. Fire engines are the most common form of fire apparatus. These vehicles have hoses, a pump, and an on-board water tank. For most fire calls, the two engines would respond together as a "two-piece engine company". The reason for sending both vehicles was because of the scarcity of fire hydrants. While Four Corners is a suburban area today with all the associated infrastructure, it was not back then. Hydrants were only in certain areas, and many older homes and structures were far from a reliable water supply.
|1951 Mack fire engine in front of the station. Behind the Mack is another fire engine from the 1940's, I'm unsure of the make and model. Photo from SSVFD website.|
As Four Corners continued to suburbanize, fire hydrants became more widespread, and every new development had water mains. Roads were upgraded, and new fire stations opened up nearby, meaning help from neighboring companies arrived quicker. These factors meant that the two-piece engine company was no longer essential. However, some departments continued to use two-piece engine companies into the 80's. Today, the roles have been combined into one vehicle, but many rural areas still use the old method.
|The old fire station as it appears today. Image from Google StreetView.|