It's not hard to find the new blood in the 45-year-old Ashburn Volunteer Fire Department. Just ask if a member knows how to find Charlie Fletcher's farm.

Longtimers such as Chief Melvin Byrne (17 years), President Ray Muth (22 years) or Assistant Chief Ken Lawson (19 years) will answer instantly that the farm is on Route 772, one mile south of Route 645 -- at the southern boundary of the primary area served by Ashburn.

Then there are recent arrivals such as David Frenzel, who joined Ashburn Company 6 two months ago after moving into Ashburn Farm. Frenzel may not know much about the more remote parts of Ashburn, but with experience as a volunteer in McLean and a full-time job as an assistant fire chief at Dulles International Airport, there's little he can't tell you about firefighting.

And it's people such as Frenzel, say longtime volunteers, who are helping to transform the Ashburn company from a small rural department that answered six fire calls in its first year to a modern suburban unit that will ultimately be responsible for the safety of more than 30,000 residents, as well as thousands of workers in office and industrial parks. It will even serve the Washington Redskins, who will move their practice facility from Herndon to Ashburn next fall.

The 50-member fire department finds that a little bit daunting. But mostly, Byrne said, members are thrilled. He expects the department, which does not include a rescue squad, to answer up to 750 calls this year. Volunteers are required to put in at least one night a week on duty at the station.

"People . . . aren't really bothered by the extra calls," Byrne said. "That's what they train for . . . . They get a chance to strut their stuff and show what they can do."

To the south of Ashburn, another department is bracing for the same kind of activity, albeit years down the road. The tiny Arcola-Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department, which now has six to eight members who regularly respond to fire calls, will serve Brambleton, a recently approved development of 4,240 houses and millions of square feet of commercial and industrial space. Brambleton will be developed by Kettler & Scott, the Vienna firm that is building Cascades between Route 7 and the Potomac River.

Already, said Chief Harry Pangle, Arcola Company 9 is getting busier. And no earth has been moved on the 2,900 acres that will become Brambleton.

"We've run 40 or so more calls this year than all of last year," Pangle said. "And we're barely into September."

Arcola today is still a rural village, but it is so close to Route 50 and to heavily populated areas that Loudoun County has staffed the station with three paid firefighters during the day. Ashburn also has three paid firefighters. Arcola public affairs officer Delbert Feaster said it is likely that eventually there will be more paid firefighters at Arcola, which also operates a rescue squad on the same premises. But volunteers are worried about evenings and weekends, when they will be responsible for calls.

Development "is going to tax the members running {calls} now," said Feaster, 34, a lifelong resident of Arcola. "And you just don't get the members you used to get. There's too much for young people to do. Back when I was a kid, there was nothing to do but join the fire department, and when you got it in your blood, that was it."

Feaster and other members are hoping the good fortune that befell the Ashburn department will come their way as well. In the last year or so, Ashburn has gained 10 new members from the 1,400 homes in the Ashburn Farm and Ashburn Village subdivisions, which will eventually have a total of about 9,000 homes. It also has four applications pending.

"We've got to get some members out of Brambleton," Feaster said.

The county, which is committed to keeping a volunteer fire and rescue service, has not allowed the plight of small stations to be lost on developers.

As part of its proffers, or contributions in exchange for the right to build, Kettler & Scott will give the Arcola volunteers a five-acre site for a fire station at Brambleton. It will also make an initial contribution of $60 per residential unit built and 10 cents per square foot of industrial and commercial space built, according to a county staff report. Annual contributions are to follow.

"We consulted with {Kettler & Scott} for months on what {Brambleton} was going to cost us, and what we would like to have in return," Feaster said. "We're extremely pleased."

Both Arcola and Ashburn have plans for more space. When Arcola builds its new Brambleton station, which Feaster estimated will be in 10 years or when Brambleton is half finished, it will include features such as more bay space for equipment, a bunk room and more offices. Unlike Ashburn and larger departments, Arcola does not have a bunk room because it has no overnight duty crews. Members expect that to change as the area grows.

The present 32-year-old building on Route 659 just north of Route 50 has a small bay area housing an ambulance, a pumper, a tanker, an off-road vehicle and a truck used for brush fires. It also has a living room, and an upstairs social hall that it rents out and uses for fire department functions.

Ashburn is planning an expansion of its present station on Route 641 in the middle of what is now called Old Ashburn. Ashburn now has a social hall, bunk room, living room, computer room, offices and a bay area that houses two pumpers, a mini-pumper, an off-road vehicle and a brush fire truck. The company would like to expand the bay area to hold more equipment and would like to add more bunk and living space. Someday it too will build a new station, on 2 1/2 acres donated by the developers of Ashburn Village.

The companies also have purchased new equipment. Arcola will get a new pumper this fall, its first major piece of new equipment since 1982. Ashburn will get a new pumper in April.

Like other companies in Loudoun County, the departments require members to complete hundreds of hours of training. After learning basic skills, volunteer firefighters can also become specialists in handling cave-ins, incidents involving hazardous materials and other technical subjects that Feaster said he wouldn't have dreamed of when he joined Arcola 19 years ago.

"Back then, all you had to do was get on the fire engine and go," he said. "The fire department's definitely changed."