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52 years ago, James Tate Sr. was assigned to DC Fire Truck Company 6 located at 1338 Park Road. His son, Jonathan Tate, a current DC Firefighter, also assigned to Truck Company 6, is seeking to convert the old firehouse where his father once served into a demonstration kitchen and restaurant to help firefighters live a healthier lifestyle.

James Tate Sr. joined the DC Fire Department in 1956. Tate served at Truck 6 in 1968 during the riots after Martin Luther King was assassinated. James Tate, Sr. worked at multiple firehouses but spent most of his career at Truck Company 6 where he served as a firefighter and Lieutenant. He ascended to the rank of Deputy Fire Chief before retiring in 1989. 9 years after retiring, he died after a battle with cancer (lymphoma) and multiple heart attacks.

Jonathan Tate joined DC Fire & EMS Department in 2012. After being appointed to Truck Company 6, now located at 3420 14th Street NW, he noticed the lack of nutritious value in many of the meals prepared in firehouses. Jonathan decided to start Food on the Stove, a nonprofit organization to help change eating practices in the fire service. Food on the Stove is a double entendre’, as it also speaks to the #1 way that structure fires are started – food being left on the stove unattended. Through Food on the Stove, Jonathan seeks to bring awareness to the current state of health in the fire service by encouraging firefighters to pay more attention to the food on their stove.

THE PROBLEM

Firefighting is the only occupation that requires employees to cook all 3 meals while at work. This can result in cooking a lot of quick, highly processed meals, which can lead to hypertension and ultimately a heart attack. The life expectancy of a firefighter is 10-15 years less than every other employee in America. Due to the hazardous nature of the job, the risk of cancer is also much greater for firefighters. We want firefighters to control the controllable. Firefighters can’t control the sleep deprivation, hazardous environments they are required to go into, or the stress of the job. We believe that the best way to combat heart disease in the fire service is by controlling that which firefighters can control–diet and exercise. By educating our local heroes about nutrition and exposing them to healthier alternatives, we will be able to lower the number of firefighters who die from heart disease; while impacting the health of their families as well.

In 2018, 44% of firefighters that died in the line of duty died as a result of a heart attack. If 44% of firefighter line of duty deaths stemmed from basement fires, firefighters would train daily on how to prevent and eliminate the threat of succumbing to basement fires. What will our response be to combat heart disease and other ailments that plague these heroes? The fire service does a great job extinguishing the threat of fire. Food on the Stove seeks to be just as efficient in extinguishing heart disease in the fire service.

THE PROJECT

In 1900, architect Leon Dessez designed the Renaissance style firehouse then known then as Truck Company F which currently sits at 1338 Park Rd in Columbia Heights. It was later renamed to Truck Company 6 in 1906 and merged with Engine Company 11 in 1940. In 1984, Engine 11 and Truck Company 6 relocated to 3420 14th Street where it now serves the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

Food on the Stove seeks to acquire the old vacant DC Firehouse at 1338 Park Road and convert it into a demonstration kitchen for firefighters to take free cooking classes while they are at work. The space will also operate as a full-service restaurant to help Food on the Stove sustain its charitable operations including supplementing the cost of meals in the firehouse, by providing free boxes of food that contain all the ingredients firefighters will need to make healthy meals at the firehouse.

While many nonprofit organizations often find themselves in an unsustainable situation due to lack of grants and major donors, Food on the Stove sees the utilization of the firehouse as a creative way to bring awareness and revenue at the same time. Restaurant patrons will have the opportunity to dine with a purpose; with profits from the restaurant going back into programming and providing firefighters with healthier food options.

We are seeking signatures to show support for this endeavor. It is our belief that your signature will be instrumental in Food on the Stove getting Mayor Bowser and Department of General Services to agree to sell 1338 Park Road to Food on The Stove. After meeting with DGS, we were told that government buildings are not typically sold but leveraged to developers to gain more assets for the city. We believe firehouses that become vacant should be used to benefit firefighters as much as possible. Many people from this firehouse have sacrificed their life to save others, this is an opportunity to use this historic firehouse to save them. It is our belief that your signature will be instrumental in Food on the Stove getting Mayor Bowser and Department of General Services to agree to sell 1338 Park Road to Food on The Stove. After meeting with DGS, we were told that government buildings are not typically sold but leveraged to developers to gain more assets for the city. We believe firehouses that become vacant should be used to benefit firefighters as much as possible. Many people from this firehouse have sacrificed their life to save others, this is an opportunity to use this historic firehouse to save them.

Ready to make a change?

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