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LAFDHS Blog

Museum Info

Hollywood Museum

1355 N. Caheunga Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 464 - 2727
SAT 10a - 4p

Harbor Museum

638 Beacon Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
(323) 464 - 2727
SAT 10a - 3p

Off-hour tours available
by special request.

LAFDHS Blog

Remembering Benjamin Pinel

Early in the morning of December 4, 1984, the Los Angeles Fire Department lost one of its firefighters in the midst of a greater alarm structure fire near the Los Angeles International Airport. Firefighter Ben Pinel was part of a fire attack team when he became separated from his crew. We invite you to learn more about Firefighter Pinel and his ultimate sacrifice for the City of Los Angeles. To learn more, click here.

We also encourage you to visit the LAFD Museum and Memorial in Hollywood. Firefighter Pinel's name is on our memorial wall, and you may make a donation in his name - or purchase a memorial paver for our plaza.


The Way It was: LAFD Training Film

Company Response!

When you evaluate all of the various ways in which first responders train today, it's easy to think of the past as a more simple time. Yet, a quick look back reveals that training was as important then as it is today.

The Los Angeles Fire Department has a proud tradition of training its officers and firefighters. Take a look at this training film from the middle of the last century and you'll discover the specific emphasis placed on being safe, and training as if each firefighter's life depended on it. It's really a fine example of LAFD in action.

 
The LAFD Museum thanks FireRescue1.com

For those of you interested in the history of the department, check out the vintage apparatus. Can you identify each one of the rigs featured in the show? Share your expertise by adding a comment to this blog posting.

Can you identify each of the stations featured in the film?

What era were the black turnout helmets used in?

We welcome any feedback or comments you may wish to share.

Damron's Badge Comes Home

LAFD BadgeCaptain Steve Ruda was walking along the street, awed by the destruction that lay before him. The disastrous Sayre Fire had blown through the Oakridge Mobile Home Park just one week earlier, destroying more than 500 homes. Now, residents were finally allowed back in, if only temporarily, to sift through the remains of their homes, searching for anything that might be of value.

Ruda, a Captain II with the Los Angeles Fire Department, has years of experience with wildfires, but this was different. “Entire blocks of homes were gone,” he recalled. “It was extremely emotional for our firefighters, as they did everything they could to save these homes.”

Here and there, a gutted car sat in a driveway, the only remaining elements being scorched metal. The only identifiable remains for most homes were mailboxes that tilted at crazy angles next to the street.

Captain Ruda, the Task Force Commander for 27s, was working with his crew to help open safes for homeowners, who would then retrieve the few valuables inside not consumed by the heat and fire.

As Ruda walked along the street, he noticed an older woman, with several young women sifting through rubble, and when they saw him, they motioned for him to come over. As one of Ruda’s roles was to provide support to the homeowners, he strode directly over to them. “I don’t know for sure,” said the older woman, “but this may be of interest to you.”

She offered the Captain a browned, rusted piece of metal. Ruda turned it over and over in his hand. There was a seal on the metal and at first glance, it looked like the seal of the City of Los Angeles. And a word... Fireman. “This looks like an LAFD Firefighter’s badge. A very early one,” Ruda said to the women. The older woman nodded and said, “that badge belonged to my father, George Damron.”

Flash back to 1935. The history books indicate it was a typical southern California Saturday morning on September 7th. Downtown bustled with the many activities of Los Angeles, including the hectic garment district, where clothing and other materials were manufactured. The Mission Painted Fabrics Company was just one of those businesses. A wide array of volatile chemicals were used in the manufacturing process, often in large tanks or vats, to waterproof the often painted fabrics. One of the vats was called, “a dipping tank,” and it was open so canvas or other fabrics could be dipped into it. The vat contained a combination of wax, petroleum oil, gasoline thinner, and paint pigment.

At approximately one quarter past ten o’clock in the morning, the owner of the business, Elliot Theobold and Superintendent, Gordon Gould, were standing near several of these tanks, when they noticed a “flash of fire” just off the ground near the open waterproofing vat. The canvas caught fire and within seconds the vapor in the room ignited, filling the structure with smoke and flames. Lucky to be only slightly burned by the flashover, Theobold rushed to his office and called the fire department. Outside, a passerby also witnessed the fire and pulled three different fire alarm boxes. The initial assignment included Engine Companies 2, 5, and 24. They were joined by Truck Companies 17 and 24, along with Salvage 24. Battalion 7 responded with acting B/C George Dyer.

First in was Engine 2. The crew, headed by Captain Lawrence W. Krumsiek laid several lines in front of the building. Other lines were laid around the two-story structure and entry was made at several locations, nearly simultaneously. Captain Krumsiek and Fireman George Damron entered the structure near the open dipping tank and opened their nozzle, putting water on the fire. Other hose lines were put into operation and within just a few minutes, the fire appeared to be knocked down.

LODD LAFD Damron 1935The rapid addition of water from multiple hose lines not only covered the floor, but the open dipping tank’s chemicals had spilled and were swirling around the feet of Krumsiek and Damron. The chemicals in the tank had been pre-heated for their water-proofing purpose, and shortly after the main body of fire was extinguished, a boil over occurred, resulting in re-ignition of the fire and chemicals that were spilling from the tank. The fire enveloped and trapped both Krumsiek and Damron. They retreated and attempted to exit the building, but the floors were wet and slippery, and they both fell into the burning oils. Both men managed to get up, and they stumbled outside, "looking like human torches," a newspaper account reported. Hose lines were immediately opened and the fire was extinguished, and firemen attended to their injured brothers.

Both men were transferred to the receiving hospital, but despite care, Captain Krumsiek died the next morning, September 8th. George Damron appeared to rally for a few days, but his body was unable to deal with the extent of his injuries and he also passed away, on September 13, 1935.

Standing among rubble of the Oakridge Mobile Home park 73 years later, Captain  Ruda stood with a fallen fireman’s badge in his hand. And at that moment, he decided to do something about it. “The badge represents everything to a firefighter,” he said. “We worked hard to earn it, and we continue to attend to our duties to maintain that honor. I couldn’t let this badge be forgotten.”

So, Ruda arranged for the badge to be encased in Lucite. He spoke with George Damron’s daughter Charlotte, who gave him the badge, and his two granddaughters, Pamela and Cheryl, about preserving the badge at the LAFD Museum and Memorial. They agreed.

On November 14, 2009, at 10AM, Fire Chief Millage Peaks presented a new honorary badge to Pamela and Cheryl, as a tribute to their grandfather, George Damron, and their late mother, Charlotte. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Fire Department on September 5, 1923. On September 7th, 1935, as a member of Engine 2, A-Platoon, he answered his last call. Engine 2, A-Platoon, and the entire Task Force 2 was on hand to assist the Fire Chief with the presentation. Following the presentation to the two sisters, they, in turn, presented their grandfather's preserved badge to the LAFD Historical Society.

For Ruda, the moment he found the badge represents the mystic and wonder of the job. “Not to sound too corny, but it was like a phoenix rising from the ashes,” he said. “To find it the way we did, just shows how some things tend to find their way home.”


NOTE: You can see the badge at the LAFD Museum and Memorial in Hollywood. To learn more about LAFD Line of Duty Deaths, please visit LAFIRE.COM.

Arson Investigator Tom Derby

It's one thing to put out fires, and it's entirely another to determine how they started - and in some cases, by whom. The Los Angeles Times has published a wonderful story about LAFD Arson Investigator Tom Derby. It's a terrific read - and if you're interested in the history of the department, this is a story to remember. Note also the wonderful photo by our friend Harry Garvin, a motion picture cameraman who moonlights with the Arson unit.

READ STORY.

The LAFDHS Thanks you!

LAFD memorial
The LAFD Historical Society, Museum & Memorial would like to thank all of those who attended the 2009 Memorial event here in Hollywood. Each year, we gather to pay our respects to those firefighters who served the public and gave their lives so that others might live.

Each year, the LAFDHS creates a special event, dedicated to our Los Angeles firefighters. Each year, we unfortunately are adding names to teh memorial wall in front of Old Fire Station 27 in Hollywood. This remains a dangerous job, and every ounce of support from the public is important, not only to the department, but to the families of fallen firefighters as well.

Thank you again for your support!

We encourage you to continue that support with the purchase of a memorial paver or other donation. The LAFD Museum operates solely with funding from donations and membership fees. Your support is greatly appreciated.






NOTICE TO ALL MEMBERS

NOTICE TO ALL MEMBERS: UPDATED!

Ex Parte Court Appearance

Jim Finn as President of LAFDHS, through the organization's legal representation, Farmer & Ridley LLP, will be making an ex parte application to the Los Angeles Superior Court, Central District, Room 206, on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 8:30 a.m. for relief pursuant to Corporations Code Section 5515 to ratify the recent LAFD Historical Society election results even though quorum was not met. 

NOTE: Any interested party has a right to object, but you must appear.

UPDATE: The court appearance has been postponed until December. Additional Details will be posted, as they become available.

For information regarding the Los Angeles Superior Court, please click here.

Don't Forget to Vote!

Our annual elections are under way! And we're very excited that a large number of our members are sending in their election ballots. Are you one of them?

If you haven't voted, please make certain you do! This is your chance to help shape the future of the LAFD Historical Society, Museum & Memorial. If you haven't received your ballot, please contact the museum immediately. You can reach the museum at 323-464-2727.

And, don't forget: All members are invited to attend the annual meeting. Meeting details can be found here.

Please vote! Elections are in progress!

It's time to vote! If you're a paid member of the LAFD Historical Society, this is your chance to help guide the future of the organization. During the month of August, we're conducting our annual elections. By now, you should have received your ballot and voting materials in the mail. Please review the materials carefully and once you have a good idea of what you'd like to see take place in the future, please select your vote and return the envelope promptly.

If you have friends who are members, please ask them to vote. It is extremely important that we get as many members to vote as possible.

Read the overview of the elections document - click here.

UPDATE on materials received via the US Mail: In the election material you received in the mail there is one reference to using a proxy procedure to give the Board the right to cast your vote.  We were going to use a proxy system but decided against that for technical reasons, but there is still a reference to "proxy" in your election materials.  Please understand that you may not vote by proxy in the current election.  We apologize for any confusion.

If you have not received your ballot materials via US mail, please contact us immediately: info@lafdmuseum.org

If your membership has lapsed, we invite you to renew your membership and vote.

It's important that your ballot be received no later than September 08, 2009. (Updated)

Note: Updated candidate statements are available online - click here.

You may review the current listing of directors online - click here.

To learn more about the LAFD Museums, click here.

Fire Service Day at Museum 27

As is the tradition of the Los Angeles Fire Department, May is the time when the department opens the doors to all of their fire stations to welcome the public. This year, May 9 was the day - and The LAFD Museum & Memorial was open as well. The LAFD Historical Society combines Fire Service Day with the department's annual Open House event. And this year's event was a blast. See the Flickr Gallery from 27s and 99s.

Honorary Division 1 Fire ChiefThanks to some generous sponsors, all of the cooking materials were donated, and as a result, the event generated good revenue to support the museum and maintenance of the memorial. For those who spent some time with the organization on Saturday, there was a wealth of things to enjoy, including the presentation of the LAFD Division 1 Honorary Fire Chief - this year to Valorie Keagan, a dedicated community activist and volunteer who has tirelessly worked to improve public safety within her Hollywood West community group and within the Hollywood area overall. The presentation was made by Battalion Commander John Drake (B5-A), and Valorie was presented with her white chief's helmet by Fire Chief Douglas Barry and City of Los Angeles councilmember Tom LaBonge. Other notable VIPs included City of Los Angeles councilmember Wendy Gruel, Fire Commissioner Casimiro Tolentino, Deputy Chief Mario Rueda, as well as other senior commanders and fire officials.

The food was, as usual terrific and was prepared, also as usual, by retired firefighters. Hundreds of people passed through the iron fence into the fallen firefighter memorial grounds and listened to speeches, watched Firefighter Ryan Penrod (29-B) and Wilshire the Fire Dog, plus a rescue drill by the members of 27-A. Watching firefighters tear a car apart using the Jaws of Life and other resuce tools is something to be seen.

Task Force 27 Vehicle Extraction DrillThe museum store did a brisk business (thank you!) and the new education program (MySafe:LA) was on hand with evacuation kits, merchandise, and information about the fire and life safety program being introduced to Los Angeles area schools.

It goes without saying that no event can be successful without a team effort. And, the volunteers at the LAFD Museum outdid themselves this year in nearly every respect. When you next come to visit the museum, please make certain to say hello to the volunteers you meet. They donate their time and do so because of their love for the fire service and the importance of maintaining the memorial.

If you haven't been to one of our pancake breakfast events, please make a note that next year, you must plan on attending. May is the month. Specific details will be published in the website in March of 2010.

Remembering Firefighter Brian E. Phillips

This coming April 25, the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society will host a memorial service to honor the 30th anniversary of the death of City of Los Angeles Firefighter Brian E. Phillips. Firefighter Phillips, a department member for nearly six years, was killed when he was thrown from an aerial ladder during ladder pipe operations while on scene at an arson structure fire.

Firefighter Phillips was assigned to Task Force 102 in the San Fernando Valley. At about 7:30PM on the 25th of April 1979, the long ring sent firefighters to their apparatus for a reported structure fire at Mullin Lumber Company on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood. Arriving firefighters discovered a working fire and began deployment of resources to engage in suppression activities. It was during the firefight that Phillips was thrown to the street when the ladder pipe assembly came loose on truck 102.

Brian's father, Terry Phillips, served the City of Los Angeles for 26 years and retired as a captain in 1967. When he died, Firefighter Phillips was survived by his wife, Brenda, and a stepdaughter, Michelle Lee Cupp.

The LAFD Historical Society honors all fallen firefighters and the public is welcome to visit the memorial plaza. There, etched on the memorial wall, you can view Brian Phillips name, as well as the 254+ other LA City Firefighters who died while protecting the citizens of the city of Angels.

Please honor Brian by attending a special 30th anniversary memorial service. It will be held on the 25th of April, 2009 at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Hollywood. Please refer to the website calendar for specifics on the event.

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