Fire departments are pillars of the community, a place for interaction and education. While the first priority of firefighters will always be keeping their communities safe, fire departments also have the opportunity to act as an innovative leader in green practices within their communities and in the nation.

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is the leading nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. And when NVFC program manager, Allison Moore, set out to research for the nonprofit member organization’s “Guide for Going Green in the Fire Service,” the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department stood out among its peers.

“Dale City is a great example of a fire station that has reduced their impact on the environment, protected the health of their members, and set a really great example for the community,” Allison says.

When the northern Virginia fire department needed a new station, the department’s 250 firefighters had something special in mind. They wanted to build a "green" building, and that’s exactly what they did. The new fire station is the ninth station in the nation to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. The department also incorporated health and safety into the building’s design and into the environment in which the volunteer firefighters live and work.

“We wanted to send a positive message and reinforce a healthy lifestyle,” explains Captain Jeremy McPike.

The list of "green" features in the building is exhaustive. Speaking of exhaust, one of the features of the new station is the exhaust system that helps remove diesel fumes from the fire trucks as they start up.

Out front, under the lawn, is an underground cistern that collects the station’s rain water, which is then used to irrigate landscaping – including the station’s two vegetative roofs.

The station has motion-sensor lighting, recycled glass floor tiles, Energy Star appliances, automatic faucets and other water and energy-savings features. Firefighters work out in a spacious, well-equipped room and have fun flying down the big green slide when the stairs or the fire pole seem a little too mundane.

“I am proud to be a firefighter here in Dale City,” says Captain McPike. “We’ve done a great job at reinforcing not only the green-built environment but the future of firefighters’ health and safety.”

At Georgia-Pacific, we’re also proud of the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department and the National Volunteer Fire Council. Of the 1.2 million firefighters in this country, 800,000 are volunteers. To thank the brave firefighters who protect us and show outstanding leadership in our communities, we’ve created the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade program.

For more information, visit www.gpbucketbrigade.com >>