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Photos: FCPD helicopters land bigger home with new aviation center

(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Fairfax County’s police helicopters have a new base of operations.

The emergency choppers and their crews will now be housed at the Fairfax County Police Department’s new David M. Rohrer Aviation Center, which was welcomed with a grand opening celebration yesterday (Wednesday).

Located at 4604 West Ox Road, the two-story, 23,000-square-foot facility replaces a smaller heliport that was built on the same site in 1984 but no longer met the helicopter division’s staffing and equipment needs.

Known by the call sign “Fairfax 1,” the division includes two helicopters and flight officers, pilots, paramedics and maintenance crews.

They were performing over 150 helicopter missions per month and more than 80 medical evacuations per year out of the now-demolished, 9,500-square-foot heliport, the FCPD reported when pitching the project for bond funding in 2015.

“Similar to a firehouse, staff remains on-site throughout their shift, but locker space, helicopter equipment space, storage areas and training space is insufficient to meet current operational needs,” the department said. “The helicopter hangers are not large enough to house the county’s two twin-engine helicopters, and the sloped landing pad causes safety issues especially during winter months.”

The project received $13 million from that public safety bond referendum, though the county ultimately approved $14.1 million, according to the current capital improvements program.

In addition to a landing pad for the helicopters, the new aviation center has a two-bay hanger, parking for 25 vehicles, and upgraded locker, storage and training spaces.

The facility is named after former deputy county executive for public safety David Rohrer, who retired last year after a 41-year career that he started as a patrol officer. The name was requested by Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, whose district includes the heliport site.

“The operational needs of our flight officers, pilots, paramedics and maintenance crews have grown significantly,” Herrity said after participating in the grand opening. “This new facility will provide lifesaving medical treatment and crimefighting services to our citizens.”

Speakers at the ceremony included Herrity, Davis, Rohrer, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, County Executive Bryan Hill and Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Director Chris Herrington.

At the time of the opening ceremony, helicopter crews hadn’t officially moved in yet, but the FCPD anticipates they’ll be able to operate out of the aviation center starting at 8 a.m. Saturday (March 25).

“That depends if everything gets moved over in time,” the police department said.

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