Charles M. Chamberlin, Jr. was appointed August 1, 1936 to Platoon No. 1 of Engine Co. 16 for the District of Columbia Fire Department. Over the course of his 28 years as a career firefighter, Private Chamberlin was assigned to multiple engine and truck companies including Rescue Squad 1, Squad 2 and a brief assignment on their Fire boat. He received multiple commendations in 1943, 1946, and 1953 for meritorious service in the line of duty. He founded and operated the DC Firefighter’s blood bank and over the course of his lifetime, donated more than 52 pints of blood to the American Red Cross for use by the Armed Forces. In 1954 Private Chamberlin was honored as Fireman of the Year. As a community leader, he served as den father to a Cub Scout troop and later served on the Board of Directors for the Boy Scouts of America. He was an active member of his church and a member of the Masonic Temple. His nickname was “Doc” and he was always ready to give his time to help others, from the lowest private to the highest ranking officer. When any member was sick or wounded they could always count on a visit from “Doc.” On February 28, 1965 while responding to a lounge fire located at 3433 Connecticut Avenue NW, 5th BFC Aide, Charles M. Chamberlin, Jr. succumbed to a massive heart attack on the fire ground and later died on March 1. He was survived by his mother, two sisters, wife, son, and granddaughter.
In January 2010, Private Chamberlin’s granddaughter, Helen Chamberlin engaged with DC FEMS Property Management Services and the Cleveland Park Citizen’s Association to pursue a much needed renovation of Engine 28, a historic fire station built in 1916 and her late-grandfather’s last assigned house. Renovations commenced including the widening of the historic archways to accommodate larger fire apparatus, much needed upgrades and to achieve LEED certification. In January 2014, renovations to Engine 28 – Truck 14 – EMS 28 were completed and the firehouse reopened and serves the Cleveland Park community.
On March 1, 2015 on the 50th anniversary of Private Chamberlin’s passing, the council of the District of Columbia signed a resolution citing it as “Private Charles M. Chamberlin Jr, recognition resolution of 2015.” The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 36 and DC FEMS commissioned a plaque recognizing his 28 years of service and it’s located at Private Chamberlin’s last firehouse, Engine 28 – Truck 14 – EMS 28.