A FEW HIGHLIGHTS
ABOUT EARLY FIRE DEPARTMENT
By KENNETH BURTON
Prior to the year 1871, fire extinguishing
in Los Angeles was done by the volunteer fire brigade, assisted by "peons" and
water buckets. It was not until September of that year that any organization was effected.
At that time Engine Co. No.1 was organized by George M. Fall, then County Clerk, who was
elected foreman with membership consisting mostly of prominent storekeepers and property
owners who assisted in carrying hose. The apparatus consisted of and Amoskeag engine and a
hose jumper. This equipment was hand drawn until the spring of 1874, when the company
became dissatisfied and asked the City Council to purchase horses for the engine. On their
refusal the company disbanded.
In April, 1874, many of the old members of
No.1, with the addition of others, altogether numbering thirty-eight, reorganized the
company under the name of "Thirty-Eights-No.1" with the following officers:
Foreman, Chas, E. Miles
First Asst. John Cashin
Secretary, Sidney Lacy
Treasurer, J. Kuhrts
Foreman Miles was succeeded by J. Khurts, W.F. McDonald, Sam Fay, Henry Decker
and Henry Scheerer in the order named.
In May,1875, Engine Co. No. 2 was organized as "Confidence Engine
Foreman, George Furman
First Assistant, George Gard
Second Assistant, Joe Manning
President, John Briely
Secretary, Brice McLellan
In 1876 Gard succeeded Furman as foreman, and
Walter S. Moore was elected secretary.
The following foremen were elected and served in the order named:
Walter S. Moore was elected president of the company in 1877 and occupied that
office until 1884, when he was elected chief engineer of the Volunteer Department.
The first truck company or "hook and ladder" was built in Los
Angeles and housed with "Thirty-Eight's" (Eng. Co.No.1) on Spring St. near
Franklin. Being too cumbersome and ill-adapted to the wants of the city, it was later sold
to the town of Wilmington. In 1876, the city purchased a "Village Hook &
Ladder" truck with served its purpose until 1881, when a 65 ft. extension ladder was
purchased from the patentee, D.D. Hays of San Francisco. This truck was originally on Los
Angeles Street near Aliso and later at North Main Street near the Plaza, where it was
known as the "Village Hook & Ladder Co.No.1."
In 1878 the residents in the vicinity of Sixth Street and Park originated
a hose company under the name of "Park Hose Co.No.1." This company was located
on Spring Street near Fifth.
In the spring of 1883 the people of East Los Angeles originated a hose
company. This company was called "East Los Angeles Hose Co.No.2" and was located
on Truman Street near Downey Avenue.
In the fall of 1883 the last but not the least of the volunteers was
organized in the Morris Vineyard. Located between Pico and Washington, and Main and Flower
Street, a house was built and a hose cart provided for the company, which was christened
"Morris Vineyard Hose Co.No.3."
In 1882 the Southern Pacific Railway employees in the vicinity of the
river station (then the San Fernando Street depot) organized a very efficient hose company
known as the "Southern Pacific No.1." Although not a member of the department,
it worked in harmony and did much favorable service in the vicinity of the depot. All of
these companies remained in service until February 1, 1886, when the present paid fire
department came into existence.
The volunteer fire department was organized June 20, 1876, by the election of
the following officers:
Chief Engineer, Chas. E. Miles
Assistant Chief, Geo. Gard
All selections in the volunteer fire department were by election. The members in
good standing in their respective companies voted by ballot for their choice. These
elections were very spirited and often much bitter feeling was shown.
In 1886, prior to the paid department The volunteer organization at that
time consisted of 380 members and the following apparatus:
* Engine Co.No.1 situated at the Plaza
* Confidence Engine No.2 at Second
and Main Streets
* Vigilance Hook & Ladder Co.No.2
at Aliso Street below Alameda
* Park Hose Co.No.1 at Fifth
and Spring Streets.
This article appeared in the March 8, 1961 issue of the Fireman's Grapevine