District firefighters have been deployed to street corners to help protect high-crime neighborhoods.

They may need to begin patrolling their firehouses.

Early Tuesday morning, Engine 33 firefighters returned from a call to their firehouse at 101 Atlantic St. SE to find it ransacked, with a BMW automobile, a firefighter's uniform and other valuables stolen. Thieves had forced their way into the station, trashed the watch desk, and stole a range of gear and personal property.

Also missing were keys, wallets and a camera, according to the police report. The ripped-off BMW was the personal car of a firefighter.

D.C. fire spokesman Pete Piringer said the break-in occurred while the firefighters were battling a blaze at 1720 Savannah St. SE, and not while they were out deterring crime. He said the department will continue to stand watch on the city's most dangerous intersections.

"I would like to think that we've made the neighborhoods better from our efforts," Piringer said. "It's been pretty well received in most communities."

Since May, the city has deployed D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel and trucks to high-crime spots to deter criminals. The firefighters have been posted at 14 of the most dangerous areas at night. The spots were chosen by the Metropolitan Police Department.

The initiative to patrol high-crime areas has been expanded into the spring of 2012.

Fire officials also are deployed during the day to protect young residents enrolled in the city's youth job program, some of whom work for the fire department. Participants of the Summer Youth Employment Program have been mugged on payday over the years.

The firefighters are not to act as police officers, but as responsible citizens who will call 911 if they see any wrongdoing, city officials said.

Police on Thursday were still investigating the fire station burglary. According to the police report, the culprits are five teenagers, ages 14 to 18. It's unclear from the report how the investigators know the ages of the culprits. One law enforcement official said fire stations and other government buildings are normally monitored by video cameras.

The firefighter's stolen car was recovered Tuesday by U.S. Park Police at Wayne Street Southeast. There was minor damage to the car.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/...#ixzz1TbDXwhae