Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Training center renamed in honor of long-time fire chief

VIRGINIA BEACH — The training center on South Birdneck Road is now the Harry E. Diezel Virginia Beach Fire Training Center.

The name change came during a ceremony there on Wednesday.

In May of 1974 Diezel became just the second man to hold the rank of Fire Chief for the city fire department.

When Diezel became chief, the Virginia Beach Fire Department had more volunteers than career firefighters, officials said.

In 1975 he secured funding from City Council to build the fire training center. Construction began in 1978 and the 10,000-square-foot facility was completed one year later. It contained administrative offices, classrooms for training, a library, a burn building, and a 120-seat auditorium, officials said.

Today, fire personnel from south Hampton Roads as well as the Oceana and Dam Neck Naval bases conduct training at the center.

Diezel is also credited for other advances, including Automatic-Aid, a policy that allows fire departments in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake to cross city lines and offer mutual aid.

He retired from the department in September 1997 and in 2002 was elected to City Council, serving for 10 years.

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