By Amelia Kushner
Sirens blare and lights flash. Most of Virginia Highland is fast asleep, but not the crew of Station 19. They race through the night in their truck, off to save another life, adding one more to the thousands of lives they have saved since the station was founded in the 1920’s.
Atlanta Fire Station 19 is the oldest station in Atlanta still functioning. It is nestled between residential homes and single-roomed shops on North Highland Avenue and is a pillar of the Virginia-Highland community.
The 90-year-old station was scheduled to be replaced by this year. The community rallied around the station and managed to save it, though it is still in need of some repairs. The funds from Station 19 merchandise sales, donations, and fundraisers have kept the station afloat, and the firefighters feel the support of the neighborhood behind them.
“The community is so involved,” says Station 19 firefighter Gregory Davis. “They come out and support us. They’ve supported our renovations, they do fundraisers for us, they bring us goodies all the time. I’d say the community’s the best thing here.”
The station opened its doors June 1, 1925, and the building hasn’t been touched by a contractor since it was built.
“It’s a classic firehouse,” says Davis. “It’s got appeal to me. It’s a cozy little house, a single house, so it’s not too crazy.”
Jay Smith lives just one street over from the firehouse and is one of the station’s many fans.
“Its longevity is one of the things I like,” Smith says. “I like the fact that, the way it’s laid out, that the firemen themselves sit out front and are a part of the neighborhood.”
Firefighter Davis says that the station is always happy to engage with kids who want to be firefighters when they grow up. Younger kids have the opportunity to sit in the fire truck, which is a very popular neighborhood activity, but older kids that are serious about joining the station’s ranks can observe the duties of a firefighter firsthand.
“Come by any station in this community, and we can do what we call ride-withs to see if it’s truly what you’re going to like,” Davis says.
Though it is a fire station, the majority of the station crew’s duties don’t have anything to do with fire at all.
“We don’t just fight fire, there’s a lot of things we do,” says Davis. “Eighty percent of our calls are medical calls, so if you have an interest in the EMS side of things, I definitely recommend you learn some basic anatomy and physiology along the way.”
The Station 19 staff and several members of the community are working hard to make sure it is still in operation come its hundredth anniversary in 2025.
“It’s a cool old building,” says Smith. “I’ve been here a long time, and it’s been here longer than me. I really like having it there, and I like that it’s a piece of the neighborhood history.”