Fun Photos from our Archive
by President Paul Schneider
Here is a selection of Random Shots we have highlighted here at the Museum. These are photos from our huge collection that we have found to be fun and provide us with a few moments of reflection.
We found this image online while searching through the USC digital library and it works well for this Fire Warden’s edition of “Random Shot”. This is the original Truck 8. In fact this is the first LA County Truck Company placed in service. Prior to our Department having a truck company certain engines carried extension ladders of up to 45’ in length. Most of the areas our Department served did not have structures that could not be accessed by these ladders. A notable exception was the Hollywood/Sherman areas served by Engines 7 and 8.
It is hard to believe that our Department was nearly twenty-five years old before we finally placed a truck company in service. Then again it’s hard to believe our Department was sixty-five years old before we bought a tiller truck but I digress. The first truck was Truck 8 and the second was Truck 27. These two trucks were built by American LaFrance and were of the mid mount variety which allowed for a good selection of wooden ground ladders, the longest of which was a 50’ extension. Mid mount refers to the aerial being mounted directly behind the engine as opposed to the rear mount trucks that our Department operated exclusively from the early 1970s to 1989. Our “Snorkels” were also rear mounts.
The reason I chose this picture was not so much for the truck as for the kids on it. When I was a boot (I know OP, I’m still a boot to you) I remember the Captains referring to us new guys as kids. I just dismissed those comments as being what “old” guys just felt compelled to say. When we were beating the hell out of each other all night, the Captain’s would just shake their heads and mutter “damn kids”.
When we wore our dinner instead of ate it, “damn kids”, when we poured out of the smoking ruins of a burned up building, smiling ear to ear, “damn kids”, when we made each other laugh when we wanted to cry, “damn kids”. Well now I’m the old guy and when I look at this picture I see my guys. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it.
by President, Paul Schneider
1947 CHEVROLET RESCUE
I like picking pictures from our archive that lend themselves to the interjection of some humor. This image fits that criteria quite well and also drives home an important fact that all current firefighters should take note of. Our as of yet unidentified firefighter from days gone by, decided to capture this moment in his career on film. What better backdrop than this rootbeer colored 1947 vintage “Woody” Chevrolet. I know of no other such vehicles used by our Department, but if there were others, I would sure like to hear about them. What a classic.
The “10-R-1” designates this vehicle as a “Recue”. Rescues in this period of time were more akin to today’s USAR missions than to medical. The equipment carried was geared toward physical recue needs. The most advanced medical equipment carried would have been an “inhalator” which was basically a positive pressure respiration device. This vehicle was housed at Fire Station 10, which at that time was located in the City of Downey, before that city formed its own department in 1957. Our firefighter has his pose all set but his “gig” line is a mess. The “gig” line is a line formed by the buttons of your shirt, your belt buckle and the front centerline or zipper of your pants. In the training tower we were rather harshly reminded to check our “gig” lines, so to this day I still do!
Another interesting detail is the man’s white crew neck undershirt. For the last fifty plus years L.A. County Firefighters have worn white V-neck undershirts. Currently our uniform committee is looking into allowing navy blue crew neck undershirts to be worn. Personally I do not care for the new proposed policy as I would rather not look like other departments including many we took over. The current uniform committee may want to ask why our Department went to V-necks in the first place. It seems that the Department grew weary of having to demand that some among the ranks replace their grungy looking white crew neck undershirts resplendent with serious “ring around the collar” so they decided to eliminate the problem by changing our uniform policy and eliminating crew neck undershirts all together. Gone were the nasty looking crew necks and in were the V-necks that were not visible under the uniform shirt or jacket. History! Know it or be prepared to learn it the hard way!
Now when I started to write this article the whole uniform policy thing was not on my mind but developed along the way. What I want current firefighters to take note of is how Firefighters are Firefighters regardless of the time in history they serve. As proof I offer the knucklehead who has weaseled his way into the image. Look through the window of the vehicle over our subject firefighter’s right shoulder. There he is. You know him, you may be him! I know I do and I have been. Getting your picture taken in front of the firehouse by your engine, truck, squad or rescue has always been risky. The only thing missing from this picture is the column of water coming from the “bucket brigade” covertly staged on the roof. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Here at the museum we have been sorting through the thousands of images we have scanned over the last few years. We will be sharing these with you through our newsletter and our website. I like this picture because it is just funny.
Rescue 18 has stalled at Jefferson and Centinela and needs to be push started. So instead of scratching the bumpers on Engine 58 or the rescue, the decision is made to place some padding between the two expensive vehicles and give it a try. So Fireman Albert L. Elliot is elected to serve as the padding, no doubt he didn’t possess an advantageous seniority number. Apparently FIBOR (firefighters Bill of Rights) was not on anybodies minds in 1958. Not sure if this evolution produced the desired result but I am sure glad someone was grabbing some pictures instead of helping push.
Engine 58 is a 1954 Crown Firecoach. It is very similar to the Museum’s 1955 model. A true “open cab”, 365 days a year air conditioning and plenty of sunshine too. The '54 was the first year our Department purchased these great fire engines and a total of 131 or so would serve the County over the next 50 plus years. Where do I plug in my iPhone charger!!
Rescue 18 is a late 40s Ford Panel wagon similar to the 1947 Ford we have in the museum which was lovingly created to replicate Rescue 11 by the late Battalion Chief James O. Page. Rescues carried physical rescue tools, breathing apparatus, inhalators and very basic first aid gear among other items. Ah the good old days, no base stations!
STATION 30 PRIOR TO 1937
Here is another image from the archive that makes me chuckle. This was Station 30 prior to 1937. Now I know we have a few houses in service to this day that are a bit tired, but this puts it all in perspective. Of particular interest is the state of the art flag “pole”. The little fire engine is a 1925 REO Obenchain Boyer. We have one just like it in storage at our Southgate facility. Seven of these small engines were used in various districts of our early Department. These were the least expensive engines any of our districts purchased. The Department bought what they could afford and made the best of it. The REO in our collection is original Engine 31. No doubt this little house won no architectural awards, but it got the job done, I guess. I think I will try to remember this image the next time I complain about my station’s AC being turned down to low!