Arlington County Fire introduces safe haven lobbies

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) - Even in a place like Crystal City, where people feel safe walking the streets, caution remains key.

"Pretty much anywhere there are issues -- you always have to be on guard,” says Arlington resident Beth Howarth, who likes the idea of safe haven lobbies at city fire stations.

These proposed places of refuge would provide peace of mind for anyone feeling threatened or at risk.

"Knowing there's a place where you can seek out safety is helpful," adds Howarth. "Definitely might give them an ability to focus on where to go as opposed to just anywhere to duck into."

The system allows anyone to come into a fire station lobby and press the call button for immediate help.

Once the button is pushed, 911 is alerted, the doors lock, and the lobby camera instantly switches on. Police are also immediately dispatched and on their way. This part is critical, as firefighters are often on call and not around.

At any Arlington fire station, the doors are pretty much open at any time. But as you'll see, when Lieutenant Marchgianni presses the button, the doors lock immediately.

Five Arlington fire stations are currently outfitted with the technology, and five more will be soon.

"Before we had safe havens, there were times when people would come to the fire house and pound on the doors trying to get help," explains a fire captain.

Ryan Wogh got attacked recently near his house, just a few blocks from Station Five.

"Knowing that can happen, I'm glad this is here," he says.