WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

D.C. Fire Stations To Install Green Roofs

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The beginnings of a green roof growing on the roof of the fire station of D.C. Fire Department's Engine Company 12.
Jessica Gould
The beginnings of a green roof growing on the roof of the fire station of D.C. Fire Department's Engine Company 12.

The firefighters at Engine 12 in Northeast D.C. know a thing or two about emergencies. And they say the Chesapeake Bay, with its struggling oyster population and expanding dead zones, is in trouble. 

So Engine 12 and a handful of other District fire stations are installing green roofs to prevent pollution. "We’ll have a total of approximately 34,000 square feet of flat roof space to use for water retention and planting," says DCFD Battalion Chief David Foust.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is doling out nearly $11 million dollars to 55 projects, including the fire station green roofs, through its Chesapeake Stewardship Fund. Shawn Garvin is with the Environmental Protection Agency, which is helping fund a large chunk of the bay protection projects across the region. He says the gardens aren't just pretty. They're also crucial to keeping stormwater from carrying pollution into the bay.

"When you have rain, there’s no place for the rain to go if you have impervious hard surfaces. And we have pollution that develops on those hard surfaces," he says. "What ends up happening is that rain water ends up running right off into our sewers, which then makes its way into a creek or a stream or a tributary that runs into the Chesapeake Bay."

In addition to the green roofs, the funds will support rain gardens, new, pervious parking lots, fertilizer reduction programs, and stream restoration projects.

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