By David King and Jeff Everson
Chesapeake (VA) Fire Department Fire Station 1 was established in 1892 when a group of citizens got together to form the South Norfolk (VA) Fire Department. In 1963, Norfolk County and the City of South Norfolk combined to become the City of Chesapeake. Fire Station #1 is one of 15 stations in the city and is the home to the department’s foam team. This team responds daily to fire and EMS calls, and personnel also have specialized training that allows them to respond to any regional flammable liquids incident. Trained by Kidde-National Foam at Texas A&M’s Flammable Liquids Firefighting School, Station 1 firefighters work to keep the citizens safe from the many fuel terminals located along the Elizabeth River. Station 1’s deep-rooted history in firefighting has rubbed off on its people, with many of its firefighters having strong traditional values guiding them in their everyday activities.
Walking through the station, you can find on the walls pictures of every South Norfolk fire station going back to the original one from 1892. A collage of pictures shows every one of the eight engines that have served as E1 over the years. The current captain, John B Gibson III, is actually the grandson of the City of Chesapeake’s first fire chief who started in 1954. There is a rich history and tradition evident in the department, the station, and the members.
About a year ago, the station’s dinner table was being repaired at the same time the station kitchen was being renovated. During the repair process, many of the firefighters felt like the table was missing something. As most firefighters can relate to, the dinner table is the centerpiece where everyone comes together as a secondary family to eat, train, run through daily tasks, or just sit and share stories. We wanted this table to be special to us as well as remind us every day of those who gave their lives in this dangerous profession. Personnel used their own money, time, and skills to create something that is more than just a table. We created something that was more of a memorial than a piece of furniture. With the help of a local print shop, we created decals commemorating FDNY’s loss of 343 firefighters on 9/11 and the loss of two of our own from March 18, 1996, who were killed while fighting an auto parts fire. And embedded in the center of the table is the station’s new patch.
The completed table means more than what we can say with words. This table represents everything that we as firefighters believe in: Tradition, Honor, and Respect. It’s our hope that this table will remain the center of our station’s mission for many years to come.
Lieutenant David King and Firefighter Jeff Everson are members of the Chesapeake (VA) Fire Department.