More than 140 firefighters from Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue arrived on scene after receiving an emergency call at 12:23 p.m., Monday and fought the blaze until 1 a.m., Tuesday, due to spot fires continuing to flare up.
The partnership between FES and Fairfax County and the training they do together contributed to the successful extinguishing of the fire.
"We operate off an agreement signed by the Northern Virginia Fire Departments," said Ronald Martin, FES, assistant chief. "We all take the same training classes and operate off of the same operational guidelines. That way, when we do go into major events, everything is a smooth transition. We all follow the same operational procedures, so we know what to do as soon as we get together on the scene."
The emergency alarm system in the building allowed all personnel to quickly and safely which factored into there being no injuries.
"The alarm went off and the fire doors closed on Monday, which notified everyone we needed to get out of the building," said Hans Jerrell, DAU Global Learning Center, deputy director. "Everyone calmly left the building and went directly to our central meeting location."
The building sustained interior damage to all the plaster, wood and carpeting from the nearly 3 million gallons of water used to put out the fire.
"We’re going to have to total the building," said Leo Filipowicz, DAU, director of operations support group. "The structure is still very viable, but the interior will have to be replaced due to the water damage."
Mike Bohn, DAU, professor of acquisition management, called emergency services to notify them of the fire. Bohn could see the smoke from his second floor office in Scott Hall.
"A colleague of mine and I were sitting here talking and he said he saw some smoke coming out of Building 207," said Bohn. "We looked through the window in my office and saw smoke coming out of the far side of the building. So, I called 911 and was told emergency personnel were being sent right away."
Jerrell said he did not realize there was an actual fire until he evacuated the building and was notified by people in the parking lot.
"I thought it was a no-notice fire drill," said Jerrell. "When I walked out of the building there were folks that were already gathered who said, ‘There is a fire on the roof.’ At that point we knew it was real."
Because people didn’t know there was an actual fire, Building 207 personnel left personal belongings from keys to wallets and Common Access Cards in the building, which forced them to have to find rides home.
A temporary desk system was set up Wednesday, in the Packard Conference Center for the displaced personnel to work in for the foreseeable future, according to DAU officials.
Computers salvaged from the fire will be set up in the conference center and others used for classroom support will be reconfigured for office work.
"The conference center should be able to house everyone from 207," said Filipowicz. "We’ll also let supervisors know they can use telework and other options to get their people back in a productive mode."