Engine Company No. 31 was among the new generation of modern stations built with motorized apparatuses in mind. Arranged principally on one floor, the station was similar in design to Albert L. Harris's (1869-1934) other T-shaped plan, Engine Company No. 29 in the Palisades. The spread-out, one-story design suited its location in the suburb, where buildings were lower in height, less densely populated, and land was more affordable. Engine Company No. 31's architecture reflects the influence of the Commission of Fine Arts, built in the Georgian Revival style popular for public buildings at that time.
Engine Company No. 31 incorporated two innovations: electric "automatic" vehicle doors and a warning light to replace the siren, which warned motorists of the departing fire trucks. Considering motorized trucks could speedily reach greater distances and their sirens created a great deal of noise, most residents preferred to live within a reasonable distance of—and a reasonable distance from—a firehouse. On the other hand, the warning light served as an alternative to the increasing opposition of firehouse sirens for immediate neighbors. Engine Company No. 31 was the first firehouse built in DC with this technology, following a law suit challenging the government's right to site such facilities in any residential location. Sensitive to this issue, the government polled local Chevy Chase residents and found no strong opposition to using this location for a firehouse with this technology.
Nominated by the Capitol Fire Museum
DC Inventory: January 27, 2011
National Register: May 18, 2011