At Engine Company No. 8 in Southeast Washington, firefighters take their football seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they've painted the outside of their firehouse red and gold to approximate the Redskins' colors.

And bolted to the front of the building is the D.C. Fire Department insignia with a snorting hog's head painted in place of the U.S. Capitol. "First Due at the Hog's Pen," it boasts.

"It shows we're proud of the city's fire department and the way the Redskins play football," says firefighter Dennis Murphy, one of the designers.

Murphy says he got the idea because Engine No. 8, at 1520 C St. SE, is only five blocks from RFK Stadium and is the first fire company to respond to any emergencies there.

But Murphy and the other members of Engine 8 have taken their football fanaticism one step further. Last week, they called their counterparts at Engine 8 in Chicago's Chinatown and made a friendly wager on today's playoff game against the Bears.

More than pride is riding on the outcome. The losers have to send 36 of their fire department's T-shirts to the winners -- enough to outfit all the members of their opponent's house.

"They're going to eat crow," says Lt. Bob Synal of Chicago's Engine 8, which coincidentally is the second company to respond to Soldiers Field.

"When they send the shirts, we just don't want any packages C.O.D."

Murphy responds, "The Hogs can take on the Bears anytime." He predicts a 73-0 Redskins' win. "We'll rout them right out of the stadium."

In last year's Super Bowl, Murphy says, Engine 8 made the same wager with their counterparts in Los Angeles and "lost our shirts. We can't lose two years in a row."

No matter who wins, however, both engine companies will exchange pictures of their firehouses.

It took about seven days to paint Engine 8's garage doors red and trim gold with paint supplied by RFK stadium, according to Capt. Clifton Dowey, and the neighbors like the new look.

"It's quite an improvement," says Allen O. Jones, who lives across the street. "They have togetherness over there. This is the kind of spirit I think all working people should have. They all pitched in with the painting and did a wonderful job."

Not everyone in the firehouse is an avid Redskin's fan, however.

One firefighter, loyal to Dallas, was greeted by a note on the firehouse bulletin board that reads: "Dallas Cowboys enjoy your Christmas at home."