Firefighting in Los Angeles - Ahrens-Fox Video Library
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As is the norm with Ahrens-Fox videos, this one is great also! The 30 minute video is Circa 1955 at the time when the City of Los Angeles has the only Class 1 Fire Department in the nation, given it by the National Bureau of Fire Underwriters (now the ISO.)
The video starts off giving some reasons why the department was Class 1 and some reasons why it struggled to make itself even better. Tactics are explained and apparatus types are viewed. Learn when the chief decided to number each apparatus to the station it was assigned and what color the fireboats were painted during World War II. Special apparatus is illustrated and their responsibilities are explained (rescue, salvage, fireboats, air crash units,etc.). One particular unit, the utility unit is covered and it was a little ahead of its time in one respect, one particular item it carried which was a favorite of the firefighters. Of course, the major apparatus is explained also. Learn what the Blake valve was and how it operated with the engine companies and what type ground ladders the ladder companies use as preferred by the hierarchy.
Fire protection both in the urban areas and in the mountainous regions is explained. This leads up to the 1961 Bel Air conflagration that destroyed 505 homes including many owned by Hollywood stars. This conflagration, which started as a brush fire in the mountainous region takes up a reasonable amount of footage. The viewer can monitor radio traffic during the operation. Through the valiant effort of firefighters, 1500 homes were saved.
One thing that you will notice is the dress of the Los Angeles firefighter and many from the west coast. It was not customary to wear rubber boots like with the east coast firefighters. Turnouts did exist and were worn mainly at night I believe, though some can be seen wearing turnouts at some of the daytime fires. Some footage of the Bel Air fire shows a firefighter fighting the fire with a Class “A” cap on and no protective clothing while another shot shows a fully dressed firefighter. But it’s nothing that you wouldn’t see today by firefighters in a hurry.
If you have any of the other Ahrens-Fox videos, you’ll want to add this one to your collection.