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Apr 01, 2016 Washington, D.C.

Today, the White House Historical Association (WHHA) presented the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (DCFEMS) at Engine Company One, 2110 L Street NW, with the 2016 White House Christmas Ornament, as the ornament features an antique fire truck from Engine One that commemorates the 1929 White House West Wing fire, which occurred during President Herbert Hoover’s administration.

The event included an unveiling of the ornament and historic artifacts. The Friendship Fire Association displayed the official ticker tape from the 1929 fire. The White House West Wing fire is a significant moment in White House history that is also often a forgotten moment of Hoover’s presidency. Over 130 firefighters from 19 engine companies and four truck companies responded to the four-alarm fire that destroyed the West Wing. It was important to the White House Historical Association to preserve this history with an ornament that continues the beautiful aesthetic tradition of the past 36 years and also honors the hundreds of firefighters that heroically fought the Christmas Eve blaze.

“It’s truly an honor for the 2016 Official White House Christmas Ornament to pay tribute to the members of our department who responded to the White House fire on Christmas Eve in 1929,” said DCFEMS Chief Gregory Dean. “As the District’s first fire company, Engine 1 will have an enduring connection with the White House Historical Association thanks to this very thoughtful tribute.”

“In 1929 there were no radios in the DC Fire Department. Communications between the chief, on the fire ground, and Fire Alarm Headquarters was thru the closest fire alarm box,” said (Retired) Lieutenant Chief Embrey. “Box 157 was located inside the White House. The chief would have gone to the box, opened it up and manually tapped in one—five—seven, followed by two—two—two requesting a second alarm to be sounded. 2-2-3 would be the third alarm and 2-2-4 would be the fourth alarm.

Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association thanked all who work with the DC Fire and EMS department for their commitment to keeping the city safe. “As a thank you to your service, and in recognition of the history with Fire House One and our ornament, we at the Association are honored to give to each of you the 2016 White House Christmas Ornament. Thank you again for all that you do,” said McLaurin.

In attendance were members of the DC Fire and EMS Department, members of the Friendship Fire Association, and board members of the White House Historical Association. The program included remarks from Chief Gregory Dean, DC Fire and EMS Department; (Retired) Lieutenant James Embrey, Friendship Fire Association; and Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association.

Historic images of the 1929 fire, 2016 White House Christmas Ornament and photos from the program are available for download here http://bit.ly/1RRGSic and can be credited to the White House Historical Association

About DC Fire and EMS Department

The mission of the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service Department is to preserve life and promote health and safety through excellent pre-hospital treatment and transportation, fire prevention, fire suppression and rescue activities and homeland security awareness.

Media Contact:

Tim Wilson
timothy.jwilson@dc.gov
(202) 809-2705

About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $45 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission. 

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org

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