Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

48-Year-Old Station Still Stands

For 48 years, Los Angeles' first fire station at Avenue 19 and Pasadena avenue has served the city.  At the right is shown one of the cell doors with a window opening through for prisoners to receive bread and water.  In the old days, when part of the present station served as the old east side jail, "Arizona Slim" and other characters inscribed their names on the walls.  Below are pictured some of the present firemen at the station, noted for their athletic prowess.  They are: Willie "Gus" Schultz one of the department's champion high jumpers; Jimmy Gilmore, football star; Jimmie Koepke who is also a student pilot and Whitney Turk who also "rassles."



CLANG, Clang!  Fire!
      Outside the bright, new fire station standing at Avenue 19 and Pasadena avenue, an excited person clanged the call bell.
    Volunteers from nearabouts came running.  They jumped off the horse cars and hurried to the station. 
    Across the street, the swinging doors swung open.
    Out burst Henry Ruess, proprietor of the saloon.
    On his arm he carried a five gallon water bucket filled with beer.  In his hands were weiners and sandwiches.
    He rushed forth, following the volunteer firemen.
   "Henry, why do you always follow the fires?" somebody asked once.
    "Always after the fires I make a helluva good business,"  said Henry.
    Well, that was in 1881 or thereabouts.
      In those days, Los Angles' original fire station was a thing of beauty and joy.  Forty-eight years make a difference in the appearance of a fire station.

*  *  *

    THE station still stands.  The "white angels" that drew the one horse reel and the horse cart have long since gone to greener pastures.
    Generations of firemen have fought fires out of that station.
    A few years after the station was first built in 1881, it was reorganized under Chief Moore and all the men employed were paid.
    Before that, under the call system, call men received $10 a month for running to the fires.  The engineer and drivers were the only ones employed in the company, and they worked nearby at other jobs until the alarms came in.
    Under the reorganization, Charles Grotzinger was named as the first captain of the station. He was later injured and died of the injuries sustained in the service.
    The present fireman's band played for the first time at his funeral.
    At the same time as the early firemen were employed at the old station, a little building at the north side was serving as the old east side jail.
    The late W. H. McKeag, father of Charles McKeag, was the first sergeant at the old jail.
    There it was that the bad men of  the old days were incarcerated. 

*  *  *

    THE cells of the old jail are used by the firemen.
    The ancient inscriptions of "Arizona Slim," "Norway Kid," "Jimmie," "Whitey" and their various attempts at poetry still are discernible through several coats of paint plastered 


The Los Angeles RECORD, May 27, 1929

Copyright 1999 All Rights Reserved.