Decommissioning the ol firehouse - Arlington Airport firehouse scheduled for demolition
August 27, 2008 · Updated 4:38 PM
ARLINGTON Richard Logg Sr. has a soft spot in his heart for the old firehouse at the Arlington Airport.
A military man through and through with 21 years with the U.S. Marine Corps, Logg is the son of a Marine and his brothers and sons also served in the military. His youngest son Timothy is now on active duty posted at the Whidbey Naval Air Station.
He and has family lived in the former fire station at the Navy facility when he was a child, from 1949 until 1953, when Logg was 6 to 10 years old.
After reading in the Arlington Airport Quarterly Newsletter about the impending demolition of the old firehouse, Logg started researching the history of the building and he has taken on a mission to provide the old building a formal farewell.
The old fire hall is one of three buildings on the east side of the airport flight line to be demolished this spring. The other two were most recently occupied by Air Transport.
They decommission flags, why not old buildings too, Logg said.
He presented his idea to Arlington City Council Tuesday, Feb. 20, with a date for the decommissioning event set for March 31.
I love that airport, Logg told City Council. I love everything about it.
He is seeking other folks with a similar passion for the building and the history of the airport to help make the ceremony extra special.
Logg spent several days plowing through the archives of The Arlington Times to add more information to his fond memories and he found a good source of history about the airport on the city of Arlingtons Web site.
The Web site documents the beginning of the Arlington Airport as evolving from a 1934 radio broadcast in which President Franklin Roosevelt announced that several million dollars were to be allocated by the WPA (Work Progress Administration) to work on airstrips for defense.
Town residents, aviation enthusiasts and barnstormers brought an airport project proposal before city officials who took immediate action.
According to the Web site, the Arlington Commercial Club (forerunner of todays Chamber of Commerce) leased 200 acres of forestland from Mr. M. Mirckenmeier for $100 a year. A representative from the Arlington Lions Club reports that the Lions were also instrumental in the early
With financial help from the town and WPA, a strip of land 4,000 by 400 feet was cleared and graded. Old stumps left behind by loggers 50 years before were burned and cleared and the surface was covered with a light asphaltic material at the cost of $760.
Over the next several years the airport was used by local and itinerant private fliers, aerial circuses and the U.S. Forest Service. The Forest Service flew supplies from the airport to firefighters battling blazes in remote, heavily timbered areas of the rugged Cascades.
In 1939 the first lease expired and the Town of Arlington was given the option to purchase the land. They couldnt afford it so they appealed to the United States War Department for assistance. The Arlington Airport was established as a U.S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station in 1940 to supplement training facilities in Seattle, but no important construction started until 1942. Then the Navy permitted the Army to develop the field as a strategic base for medium bombers to counteract the Japanese invasion of the Aleutians. The Army purchased additional land, and the Osberg Construction Company was contracted to build two 5,000-by-150 foot asphalt-surfaced runways with connecting taxiways and hard standings for dispersal of planes, a control tower, a well and living and messing facilities for 50 officers and men, all completed by March of 1943.
The air station was commissioned June 26, 1943, the day before Richard Logg Sr. was born.
Original plans for the station did not include a firehouse, but it soon became apparent that the existing Army buildings were unsuitable in construction and location for that purpose and according to the airport Web site, Vickers Construction Company constructed the firehouse adjacent to the north-south runway and equidistant between the hangar and barracks area in the fall of 1944.
By Aug. 14, 1945 the Arlington Airport was a well-balanced station equipped to support two light carrier air groups for day and night operations.
At the end of WWII, the U.S. military reduced funding and operations around the United States and the Arlington Air Station was reduced to caretaker status Dec. 1, 1945.
At that time, the Arlington leased the flying facilities to Wesley Loback, then manager of Snohomish Airport, who operated there an accredited flying school, Arlington Aeronautical School of Flight and Engineering.
It wasnt until 1949 that the Logg family moved into the abandoned firehouse. Richards father was working as a body repairman for Henry Backstrom at Backstrom Motor Company as well as for Hammerly Trucking.
The $75 rent at the firehouse was part of his wages from Backstrom.
It was the most affordable rent we could find at the time and provided space in the engine parking garage for Dad to do his engine and body work on the side, Logg explained. Logg said that he often helped his father with sanding.
We lived in the office and the bunk area of the firehall, Logg said.
As children living in the airport firehouse, Loggs imagination went wild.
We ran air raid drills from the Ops Tower at the north end. On cots of green canvas, my brothers would lay there pretending to be Beetle Bailey and the boys, snoring while I pretended to be the sergeant.
The children found the building and its surroundings to be an unending source of adventures. He and his brothers had a great time climbing on the farm equipment stored there by Valley Gem Farm.
Thinking back, Logg waxed poetic one day, hoping to get his memoirs published in The Arlington Times.
Playing on fire engines and farming equipment, capturing honey bees that lingered near the water spigot outside, riding tricycles and bikes up and down the runways, and even on the fire hall roof (Please dont tell mother.), were just some of the fun things Logg and brothers found to do on their huge playground.
He even confessed to drinking his dads beer while cowering in the hose tower, which the city of Arlington Fire Department was then using to dry their hoses after a run. The brothers spent hours searching through the bunkers and once found some old combat rations.
We quickly consumed em before mother could find out about them, Logg remembered.
It was the days of bartering and trading and Richards father negotiated a load of peeler logs from the nearby mill with a fifth of good whiskey and a hardy handshake. It was Richards job to split logs to feed the large boiler that fed the steam heaters throughout the building.
I guess the Navy would have called me a tender, he said, Since I tended the boiler.
Recently, Logg captured his memories of what it felt like to him as a boy living at the decommissioned naval station.
Pause for a moment and you may hear the sound of a wailing siren on a clear night. Close your eyes and you can hear the voices of young Navy boys moving about through the rooms. There is a cook in the galley, and a grumpy Navy chief is complaining about powdered eggs. Someone is taking too long in the shower and so his buddy shuts off the hot water at the intake line. Standing in the bunker area you can see the Hotshot first class petty officer bucking for rank. You recognize him by the over-polished deck shoes and overly-starched uniform. He yells indiscriminately to let you know he is in charge of this run tonight.
You can imagine the men anxiously jumping from the bunks, directly into fire boots in answer to the call. Listen to the big firehouse doors opening and the trucks responding to an urgent call for rescue. There is a pilot out there in the night, and he is coming in hard.
Logg has fond memories of those years he spent living in the then-not-so-old firehouse, which was built in the early 1940s.
Those are the sights and sounds I imagined when my family moved into the abandoned Navy firehouse in 1949, Logg said. During those four years of his life, Logg learned to love that old building and all the buildings and bunkers found on the airport in those days.
The Logg family was still around in 1953 when the airport started hosting drag races.
Probably one of the best highlights of our childhood was watching the drag races, Logg said.
Some of the fastest and noisiest stock cars, modifiers and dragsters in the Pacific Northwest came to Arlington, Logg said, and he had a front row seat.
Logg has already started talking with officials about the upcoming decommissioning of the old firehouse. He has a commitment that there will be a representative from the Whidbey Naval Air Station and he has invited Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson and the City Council to attend. He sought assistance from Harry Yost and Dyc Dycus, who both served at Arlington NAAS.
Harry and Dyc are putting out a call for others to come and join in, Logg said. He is also seeking historical photographs of the firehouse, the air station and the airport in general.
In the meantime, Airport Manager Rob Putnam is still seeking permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to demolish the buildings.
We expect the demolition will be later this spring, Putnam said.