Albert C. Scheffel, 89, who became Arlington County's first fire chief in 1937 after serving as a volunteer firefighter in Arlington for 14 years, died of arteriosclerosis Saturday at a nursing home in Newport News, Va.

Born in Grand Island, Neb., the son of a fireman, Mr. Scheffel moved to Herndon with his family at an early age. His father operated a building contracting business in Herndon and, after attending school in nearby Floris, Va., Mr. Scheffel joined his father's firm. He also ran his own contracting business for about 10 years.

When the Arlington Fire District's Volunteer Company No. 1 was established in 1923, Mr. Scheffel joined, along with his four brothers. He served as deputy chief of the company for nearly two years before being named chief, a position he held for the next 13 years.

In 1937, he became Arlington's first fire chief, working with companies of volunteers only. It was not until three years later that Arlington County started building up a staff of paid firefighters.

When Mr. Scheffel retired in 1956, the Arlington fire department had 107 paid firefighters and approximately 500 volunteers.

Following his retirement, Mr. Scheffel devoted himself to his gardening to produce, as he put it, "vegetables to fill the deep freeze." A longtime Arlington resident, he had lived in Newport News for the past eight years.

Survivors include his wife, Gretta R., of Newport News; a brother, Walter, of Mount Airy, Md., and four stepchildren, Jean Nausteller of Newport News, Ray R. Ramey of Altavista, Va., Roy Ramey of Maysville, Ken., and Byron Ramey of La Crescenta, Calif.