The Fire Department holds a special place in the history of Alexandria. Founded in 1774, it counts George Washington among its early members. The first paid professional firefighters were hired in 1855. Today, the department employs over 280 professional personnel, which include firefighters, paramedics, code enforcement and administrative support. A network of eight stations protects 15 square miles. Among the department?s specialized teams are the Northern Virginia Regional Hazardous Materials Team, Technical Rescue, Marine Operations and the Special Operations Team.