Like most communities in Virginia prior to the late 1800's, Falls Church used the old fashioned method of fire fighting-the bucket brigade.
When a building known as the Kerr Mill burned, it was decided that the method was inadequate and so the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1898.
The officers consisted of Dr. J.B. Gould, Chief Engineer; George T. Mankin, Fire Warden, 1st Ward; Edgar A. Kimball, Fire Warden, 2nd Ward; D.B. Patterson, Fire Warden, 3rd Ward.
By 1899, there was one 55 gallon and two 25 gallon chemical engines of the most approved pattern and one fully equipped ladder truck. These were, of course, hand drawn. The larger engine was kept in the central part of the village while the two smaller ones were stationed at East Falls Church and West End.
The two chemical units were first used when the summer kitchen at the "Home House" of Charles E. Mankin burned in 1899.
An ad in the local newspaper of July 28, 1899 read: "The Town Council of Falls Church will levy a special tax of 15 cents on the $100 in the rate of taxation for the purchase of chemical engines for the fire department of that town. It is proposed by the Council to purchase three chemical engines; one large one for the center of town and two smaller ones to be located at East and West Falls Church respectively."
The large engine was placed beside Brown's Store and held 35 gallons of chemicals. It was drawn by hand; later, the carts were taken to the local blacksmith and rigged for a horse.
Department records are few until 1914 when a Model T Ford was purchased by the town. The chemical tanks from the 55 gallon hand drawn engine were put in it. This made "Old Tom", as the Ford was called, one of the first pieces of motorized fire equipment in Northern Virginia.
A major problem was a place to house the fire equipment. When a fire broke out the company had to search the town to find the equipment. Matters came to a head in 1923 when a fire broke out at the Eagle House. The two hand drawn engines were frozen up and the Model T could not be located. Finally, it was located in a building owned at the time by the Falls Church Lumber Company in East Falls Church. After locating it, several tons of lumber that had been stored on top of it had to be removed. Meanwhile, the Eagle House burned and this disaster, along with other incidents, motivated the reorganization of the Fire Department.
The first fire house was built in 1925 just on the other side of the service station that is next door to the present fire house on Lee Highway. The present Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department was organized and incorporated on February 27, 1925 and the first officers were: J. Earl Brunner, President; J. Stanley Higgins, Secretary; Clarence Pullman, Chief for about two months at which time he resigned and Edward M. Ward became Chief; First trustees were: E.D. Williams, C.V. Shreve, Frank H. Eastman, Horace E. Brown, Dr. Macon Ware, and William H. Lynch.
The first new engine was a Republic engine with two large soda and acid tanks, and in 1927 a 500 g.p.m. American La France pumper was purchased.
The only fatality suffered in the line of duty by the Department occurred in July 1934. Frank Hinkins was killed while responding to a false alarm.
The next large project was the construction of a new and modern type fire station which became a partial reality in 1934 when a portion of the first floor was completed at the present fire station.
Today the department is known as Company 6 for both Arlington and Fairfax Counties, with a radio designation of Company 106. The Company is responsible for protecting all of Falls Church City and areas in Arlington and Fairfax Counties as well. Due to the ever-increasing call volume in the growing DC Metro area, the station is staffed full time by Arlington County career firefighters. These firefighters work 24-hour shifts and the personnel costs are shared by the City of Falls Church and Arlington County. In addition to the career firefighters, Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department members supplement minimum staffing and staff additional units during peak call periods.