January 29th, 2011 // By davidb
The Los Angeles Fire Department began formal operations on February 1, 1886. Since then, the LAFD has been a beacon for new strategies, tactics, and training. During the coming year, the LAFD Historical Society will celebrate this important milestone in the department's history with a variety of events.
Get involved. Visit one of our two remarkable museums and share in the history with our docents and volunteers. Our museums house literally thousands of artifacts, and our staff delights in sharing stories, history, and education with everyone, young and not so young, too.
To learn more about the history of the LAFD, we invite you to visit one of these links:
LAFD Historical Society "125 Year History" [ read article ]
Los Angeles Fire Department website [ visit website ]
Smoke Eaters documentary film (in production) [ visit website ]
African American Firefighter Museum [ visit website ]
October 9th, 2010 // By davidb
Every year, the LAFD Historical Society celebrates the lives and contributions of those firefighters who gave their lives while in service to the city. The 2010 event took place on a picture perfect day in Hollywood, attended by a faithful audience of firefighters, family members of those who died in the line of duty, and civic leaders. Firefighters from all over the city attended, and the street outside the memorial plaza was filled with fire apparatus.
After a solemn presentation by the LAFD Honor Guard, event presenter Captain I Steven Owens (76-C) introduced a series of speakers, including Council Member Tom LaBonge, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Fire Commissioner Jill Furillo, Fire Chief Millage Peaks, and the children of Fire Captain Joseph Dupee, who was killed while fighting a structure fire (March 8, 1998). Both boys made short, personal, and heartfelt presentations.
Mayor Villaraigosa spoke from the heart and engaged the audience, acknowledging the families, the sacrifice, and the dangers that exist in the firefighting service generally, and in Los Angeles specifically. Chief Peaks echoed the Mayor, adding that the current economic situation has created even more demands on firefighters, and that only their training had prevented disaster. Chief Peaks spoke dearly about his firefighters and was supportive to the families in attendance.
With beautiful music, singing, and a flyover by the LAFD Air Ops Section, not to mention the ever moving bagpipes of retired Paramedic John Keyes, the 90 minute event brings honor to every LA firefighter. The LAFD Historical Society will work to ensure that not one name is forgotten. Retired Fire Captain and LAFDHS President Jim Finn read the names of every firefighter who served the city and died during their service while on duty. It is a moving experience to hear each name read, the only other sounds being the flutter of the flag suspended between two raised aerial ladders and the soulful bagpipes of John Keyes.
Following the memorial event, the museum was open for tours, and refreshments were provided to all in attendance.
Our 2011 event will take place in October of next year. We invite you and your family to attend.
The LAFD Historical Society Museum and Memorial is open every Saturday from 10AM thru 4PM. All are welcome and currently, there is no admission charge. Come learn about the history of firefighting in Los Angeles.
For information, please feel free to contact the museum at 323-464-2727.
October 4th, 2010 // By davidb
Every year, Hollywood celebrates 10-4 Day. It's a police code for "message received." For the past several years, the celebration has included a parade that has started in front of the LAFD museum and hheaded to thte Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"2150 Bye" - that was the famous line delivered by actor Broderick Crawford, who played CHP Chief Dan Mathews on the television show "Highway Patrol" (1955-1959). But the show's real history was set in stone by its narrator, Art Gilmore.
This year, the parade is more than just a celebration of the protection provided by the CHP. Art Gilmore passed away in September and for many participants, the parade is a tribute to him and his remarkable voice.
In 2009, when Art attended his last 10-4 event, he was still vibrant and funny. He told the assembled crowd that when he was doing the show, he was stopped for speeding. He told the officer that, "I'm the guy who does the Highway Patrol narration." The CHP officer demanded that he prove it with a demo. Art launched into his prologue for the show and was interrupted as the CHP officer exclaimed, "you don't sound anything like him. If you don't be quiet, I'll arrest you!"
The photo to the right was taken by MySafe:LA founder David Barrett during the 2009 event.
Check out this gallery on laist: 10-4 Parade.
August 6th, 2010 // By davidb
What a terrific summer it has been! Nice weather, no earthquakes in LA, and no better place to spend a Saturday than the LAFD Historical Society's museum in Hollywood. The museum is open every Saturday from 10AM until 4PM. It's the ideal place for kids of all ages!
The LAFD Historical Society is host to the museum. Every Saturday, a number of retired firemen will be on hand to take visitors on tours of the once fully operational fire station in the middle of Hollywood. Built in 1929 and opened in 1930, it was the largest fire station west of the Mississippi. Today, it is home to a remarkable collection of fire apparatus, as well as videos, presentations, and thousands of artifacts that represent firefighting in general, and the LAFD specifically.
So, make it a date! Come and see us tomorrow, or next Saturday. But come soon! We'll be nice that let you and your family visit for FREE! Warning: Visiting the LAFD Museum can be habit forming!
See you soon!
June 25th, 2010 // By davidb
Getting Old Fire Boat #2, the Ralph J. Scott ready for her new home will be a huge task. The Port of Los Angeles is set to begin building a new permanent museum-style home for the Scott in 2012. The new building, mainly steel and glass, will be adjacent to Fire Station 112 and across the street from the LAFD Historical Society's Harbor Museum.
To prepare the longest serving piece of fire apparatus in the history of Los Angeles (1925 - 2003), a dedicated group of volunteers gather each Friday morning to work on the boat. At the moment, they are dismantling loose bits and pieces, cataloging everything as they go.
Bill Dahlquist, who was the pilot for the Scott for many years, is the defacto project lead. He, along with a group of five to seven others have been busy with the boat for more than four months. Dahlquist estimates it will take several more months to get the Scott ready for her primary rehabilitation.
If you'd like to help the museum rehabilitate the Ralph J. Scott, please contact Frank Borden at the museum. He can be reached at 323-464-2727.
May 20th, 2010 // By davidb
Everyone knows Pau Gasol of the Lakers! But, did you know he was the official spokesperson for our education partner, MySafe:LA? Today, Pau and MySafe:LA visited a local school in the east side of Los Angeles. The topic: Fire and Life Safety.
More than 200 children (and some parents and teachers, too) welcomed Pau with cheers and lots of excitement. Pau was a terrific speaker. He discussed home safety and reminded the kids to go home and check thei smoke alarms with their parents. He also advised everyone to create a family escape plan. What Pau did that really made everyone smile, however, was to deliver these key messages in both English and Spanish. The event was noted by the media, and Fire Chief Millage Peaks stopped by to say hello to the kids as well. All in all, everyone was eager to hear what Pau had to say!
After the presentation, Pau, MySafe:LA presenters, and LA City Firefighters conducted a series of drills for the kids to watch. Pau also watched as a Paramedic explained what is carried on an LAFD Advanced Life Support Ambulance.
All in all, it was a terrific day. The school got some educational videos and DVDs, including brochures for the LAFD Museum and Memorial!
January 30th, 2010 // By davidb
The Los Angeles City Fire Department, as well as the Historical Society, lost a great retired member, supporter and friend when Frank Manwarren passed away this past week. Frank was fireman's fireman - dedicated, professional, hilarious, and was a man of courage, faith, and generosity.
I first met Frank nearly a decade ago, when I had my first experience with the LAFD Historical Society. I was sitting in the kitchen, talking with then Assistant Chief and LAFDHS President Bob Defeo, when I noted a photo of a group of firemen at the table in the same kitchen. Chief Defeo grinned and pointed to a bald man in his early eighties, who was sitting next to him. The man gave me a toothy smile and then turned away. I was initially taken aback but after a moment, realized the goofy grin from the bald man was a signal - he was in the photograph. That began a mutual admiration relationship with Frank Manwarren, fireman, general contractor, waterscape designer, and photographer. (Photo: Frank Manwarren cuts his birthday cake at the LAFDHS in 2005)
I knew Frank far less than most of those who are actively involved with the LAFD Historical Society. Regardless, I enjoyed every moment spent with him. He always had a ready handshake, would ask about the things going on in my life and that of my wife, and was eager to share stories about his career, both in the fire service and the military.
He often spoke of his son, of whom he was very proud. He tearfully recalled the loss of friends who died while he was on the job, and he brightened whenever he saw his friends Bill Rolland, Julian George, and Ted Aquaro.
During the last year, I asked Frank on numerous occasions if he'd sit down for a video interview to talk about his past and the many things he accomplished. He would always grin, and find a way to get out of it. I wish he would have agreed, but out of respect, I didn't push him beyond asking every time I saw him! This past fall, I walked into the museum kitchen and Frank was having lunch. He saw me, gave me that big grin, extended his hand and said, "How are you? And, NO!" It was a hilarious moment, and it was very much an example of Frank being Frank.
Every firefighter has an interesting story to tell. But Frank was one of those unique individuals who really had a LOT of stories to tell. From struggling through a living hell in China during World War II to taking pictures for the LAFD during the Bell Air Fire, the Watts Riots and even to his amazing waterway creations for Disney and Busch Gardens, he lived a full life and was mentally vibrant to the very end.
He would have been 90 this coming June. It is the same month the LAFD Historical Society hosts their retired firefighter luncheon. I'll miss Frank at that luncheon. I know everyone who knew him will miss him every day. His last email to me came just a few weeks before he passed away - writing, "next year will be much better. Keep working hard and we will win." There's no better advice for anyone.
To learn more about Frank and his life, please click here.
Donations in the name of Frank Manwarren can be made to the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society.
January 1st, 2010 // By davidb
On behalf of the Board of Directors, Officers, and Volunteers of the LAFD Historical Society, we'd like to wish you and your family a prosperous and safe 2010.
You are invited to visit either of our museums (Hollywood and the LA Harbor), and we're eager to have new members, new volunteers, and new sponsors - as there is much work underway. Our memorial plaza, while fully functional, requires ongoing maintenance. The rehabilitation of Old Fireboat #2 in San Pedro is one of our significant priorities for 2010, while the Harbor museum continues to bring in new visitors every weekend.
To set the year off on the right foot, we encourage you to check out the New Year's Greeting from the Los Angeles Fire Department. Featuring a tribute video produced by Cameron and David Barrett in 2005, the message holds true: The LAFD will be there, whenever you need them.
And, from our house to yours, know that the LAFD Museum and Memorial will be there for you as well. We look forward to seeing you in 2010.
December 4th, 2009 // By davidb
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.
November 24th, 2009 // By davidb
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.
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.