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Ray Picard interview

Mon, 22 Dec 2008|

At the Baggers Meeting in Oklahoma, Bobby Halton talks to fire service pioneer Ray Picard, former chief o Huntington Beach, California.



-- -- home welcome to on the road probably help them actually had. Tulsa Oklahoma -- the -- me. And had a tremendous honor and privilege to introduced to many of our viewers who made -- -- had the opportunity. -- -- -- -- a living legend the American Forest Service. It's been a role model for me my entire career. -- about -- cards since I began actually. Start doing some work in the fire service back in the seventies. And and he has already. Legendary back then -- that make you feel chief but it's a tremendous honor to have you with us here today sir and just like to have folks get to know a little bit about -- -- card. One of the founders of the -- is from the initial people with the incident command system -- we began doing what is -- news today it was fires so. Instrumental in the California mutual aid system instrumental in the standards of of cover that we as we call them today for fire departments -- the leaders and really you what is today the American fire service and just an absolute. Honored to have you here with us chief and thank you for -- it's my pleasure. Now you started in the fire service at the end of World War II. During World War II. At my -- initial. Entry into actual firefighting as part of a company was with the US Forest Service. This would be back in 1943. And basically all of the men essentially went to war. And so. They -- -- or. Young young fellows. And -- during the summer was a -- firearm or. -- are fighting service US Forest Service fire I think. Man. Was it interesting -- my actual -- Career do everything well thought things are -- and World War II it. -- there -- one little sidebar real quick on the US Forest Service in World War II. Is is that. One of the company's that I paired up -- Was -- new -- California. And that was it total female. Fire company. And now you what you were how old -- Well the bottom line. The -- -- this was actually. This was actually the second summer and that particular period. But we were burning there were right away. -- -- area of California. With a fire company that was signs of that primary station was a female fire station. I mean female fire company -- you know all city. And so -- talk about well in the fire service my first experience. Was back in 1943. With the ladies wear them. -- hit a lot of folks don't know how much the women's movements origins have to do with the world board to -- -- World War I if you wanna go back to the real beginnings when the -- went off to war someone's still had to keep the factories open get the jobs done. Police the streets and and provide -- cover. And and they were getting and Aaron is the whole thing as they had -- -- 500 -- -- And we had when it was called green -- and they had about 200 gallons of water. So as a they had the big -- to the level have the big guns -- -- -- Pasadena -- department that was your first career opportunity right that was and that 1950. So -- was quite a few years ago. And -- you fire department was the real jam. Actually. In those days. A good sized fire department that was in -- and communities and 50000 larger. And the dynamics within that fire department really establish a lot of information from my career. It department was built World War I. Retirees. From the military. And everything was by the numbers and those states but the personnel there we're just outstanding. And that there were warriors. So. -- -- right from day one I was very fortunate to work through that organization reasonably -- So I started -- age 21. And that -- -- 33 it was a tally sheet. Early battalion chief luckily so. And that person that worked there for five years as battalion chief in the past fire department but the dynamics. Of that department was significant in my in my career. And but they gave me a lot of -- way to -- to do things -- -- -- Nickname became systems. So I think it's still is you. So actually roast the rights of Pasadena. And then I know you you look -- -- -- to take -- chief's position. Right. Well I was in Pasadena. I set in my future objective. It's planning on retiring from the testing -- was to go to the -- go to Newport News about a place and Newport Beach. And so that's where my destiny was going to be at retire. But the longest hole. Is that for five years in the battalion chief there and the chief passing I was gonna stay awhile. And I. -- came for -- and views which is next to Newport News. And it was a growing community. And so. By developing interest right there and I applied and I got -- And what was interesting is is that. At that particular point. There was a lot of competition. For the job but there were looking for somebody young. At that point -- was -- years -- And if somebody from a populated town with a population of over. A 100000. And -- all your chief officer five years. So that's the criteria. Basically got the job and work from there it was really a growing community it's 66000. At that time in Huntington Beach. And growing rapidly. They expanded from four square miles shoot 28 square miles. And -- had construction of housing for the next five years. About two. To 2002. 3000. Homes being built at the same time so those -- some counseling him. -- you you served as the fire chief there for readers -- almost one in five years. Work through issues and then finally retired but eighteen years ago retired and 1990 which is about eighteen years ago. And so -- -- been very fortunate of course you know I think became involved in a lot of processes. One working with a national fire academy at work and master plan which was really. An early -- plants was done by the you have states fire administration. Develop a lot of curriculum I taught also. Several universities that was. That's staff member at cal state Los Angeles. A tough. Fire administration. I was. Teacher on staff long beach state college. Systems. And but actually also a teacher a three Community Colleges. So during this time you have to see. SCV aids the incident command system. You were friends with people like Harry Denzel and Alan -- he and Ronnie Coleman and Leo Stapleton and -- freed. Jon hey -- and you literally don't all of the modern. Nineteenth century. Leaders if you will the American bar serves and I know you guys all hate that word. But you were all -- That that could identical male co conspirators -- what today that we call the American -- service I mean even going back to the foundations that of the national fire academy. If you have a look at all those things incident command air packs. What what in your mind was the most positive. Event that you saw in your career in the fire service that you would look back on -- -- when that again I really felt like. You we were we were started we will we will moving in the right right I knew we -- -- directorate. First. Involvement in the educational process. -- was. Had an -- degree from community college at this time that I that I entered. What was interesting -- is that in 1950. They also started. The fire service going -- me into the university system. NFC's University of Southern California Los Angeles. They came -- -- universities. To do fire administration. And says. I need to do that. I need to it get a bachelor's degree and was really early on those days to have a master's degree and be commanding officer -- a fire department. To it took me four years. -- to get there. Went into downtown LA from Pasadena. But I got my bachelor's degree but all of us -- became and other activities one teaching in schools. And man went through the training officers association California. And worked through the presidency -- -- And developed. What -- What became -- curriculum for the fire service in the state of California. For both at the community college level and at the university. Which today now we have a cap on out of the national fire academy who just released -- -- which is the fire service higher education. Standard curriculum outlined. So we can create a national. Umbrella for that which it only took us. Since 68 years chief to catch up to who went through -- live out in the 1950s in California. But I think that there really important things grow slowly. The things that that take off like fireworks often. Are. They explode -- -- And and they kind of disappear in the smoke but the real foundations. Like higher education which I think is really starting to be important. Especially given the complexity of buildings and fire and everything else that the young men and women coming in today are gonna face. You know truly -- A great. Great I think identify. I can ask you to share some of the younger guys out there -- -- -- celebrated his eightieth birthday in December. So please we're going to have another 2030 years so wanna keep picking his brain and he's been battling cancer now for. A sense. 1990. And so it's important just so you know that the cheapest support that -- support network like -- bronze folks know about. So cancer does not have to be death -- if you eat well have a great attitude and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Combined with good medical care you can continue to leave a healthy productive. Life in the -- service is the -- is doing. Adding to us if you had a piece of advice. For the young men and women out there. It. If firefighters and company officers the younger folks what which is what you wanna say to the next generation. 01 of the big keys is maintain a positive attitude. And then also -- feature that you. Set. Goals. And you work. Remember some of a multi environment -- the fire service but -- was also a fan. And so the family really needs to be. Dynamic relationship that you have not only personally with you also include in the what's called the fire family. And if so it's it's a total encompassing thing. And I've seen it many times aware of that. These social family the firefighter will break away and the fire service. Fire station Fallon will become more important than personal family and that's where trouble starts. And so one of the keys is to maintain. -- family relationship. Because -- the way many hours. And fighting fires etc. and working. Long shifts so keep your priorities straight that your your real biological family comes first in the fire service should be second. That's right. So. For development -- it is important. But maintain a positive. Attitude and there. And if you really looked like all the ports of life -- need to have real identity -- how you're gonna allocate your time life goes fast. And -- -- that you get the faster than it goes. But -- you have your job in there but family is second. And then of course. What you're going to do as it relates to community community involvement the relationship with a fire service in the community. Is important. Health is important recreation is important. Career development as important. With -- educational process etc. and then of course you have that the community through word that you would belong to some organization. Providing some community service and there of course. Many have a religious base and then anyone need to be involved in that particular process -- and how much time you want allocate. And make sure that you maintain a balance along those particular lives with that you -- -- be setting early -- there. What -- a future where you forecast for you and the future and and do you maintain -- behavior. To meet those positive goals as you vote. So that you can move in that transition process all the way through -- to retire. Editor and -- thank you so much very thing you've done for me and for the first service you've done. Inspirational for leases on a million used to hear about short time -- get to get to know you. There's a lot of great pleasure my life and -- truly one of the great honors of my career. What we hope you stay around for a lot longer. Which really appreciate your leadership and here you love of of not just the fire service -- of community of this country. And it comes across every day and either this is a great role model. It's and we -- part of something greater and and she's the -- life is emulated that. And fire engineering and and all the firefighters and there I think the world of him -- thank you so much as -- Martha Scott -- we hope to see if many more years. A volley all on the road. -- -- --

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