Auxiliary Units Aid Fire Protection of Berkeley
When the Japs struck at Pearl Harbor, the Berkeley. Calif., Fire Department had fifteen pieces of major fire fighting apparatus in service and three pieces in reserve By 5 p.m. of that fateful Sunday all eighteen pieces, plus a 1,250-gallon-per-minute pumper obtained from the Hall-Scott Motor Company under a lend-lease war duration agreement and six Street Department trucks were in service, manned by on-shift and recalled off-shift personnel. Twenty-five pieces of equipment and 120 men were ready to roll.
At 1:00 p.m. on the afternoon of October 27, 1942, the Berkeley Fire Department received the first six of its total allotment of twelve OCD pump units. By 10 p.m. the same day the pumps were mounted in service on the six Street Department trucks.
Recently those trucks were replaced by a fleet of 1 1/2-ton Chevrolet truck and the OCD units and bodies, fabricated at the city shops were mounted on the city-furnished chassis.
Today, eighteen months after Pearl Harbor, Berkeley can put a total of twenty-eight pieces of fire equipment in the field with four more OCD units awaiting delivery of truck chassis so they can be mounted and put into service. Berkeley, to date, has received from the OCD ten skid-mounted pump units, two front mounts, twelve 24-foot extension ladders, twelve 14-foot roof ladders, twenty-four 10-foot lengths of 4-inch suction hose, twelve fire axes, twelve plaster hook-pike poles, 4,800 feet of 2 1/2incli hose and 2,400 feet of 1 1/2-inch hose.
As Chief William Meinheit puts it, “Berkeley, directly opposite California’s Golden Gate, hopes the rest of its OCD equipment allotment gets here before the Japs.”
Enthusiasm of Berkeley’s auxiliary firemen more than makes up for lack of equipment due to priorities and OCD red tape.
One auxiliary engine crew, regularly assigned and trained by Engine 1, 906 Charming Way, requested permission from Chief Meinheit to build and construct their own OCD unit on the 1 1/2ton Chevrolet chassis furnished by the city. The chief granted the request and work was started by the auxiliary group in the rear of their assigned company quarters last October 27.
Steel was retrieved from local war plant scrap piles, fenderfrom automobile junk yards, discarded electrical conduit eventually became railand handholds. small pieces were welded together to make sheets to fabricate body, running boards and steps
Discarded bank grill work became hose and tool baskets. W elding outfits were borrowed nightly from cooperative neighborhood plants, as were burning tools, grinders and buffers. Always they were returned the following morning to do their duty for Uncle Sam.
Regular city firemen of Engine 1 gave their help, assistance, advice. The auxiliaries carried on, begged here, reclaimed materials there, made straight the crooked and dented, shaped the conduit and piping into rails and ladder brackets, extended and sleeved OCD pump intake and outlets. They added, with the aid of 4-inch piping another intake so the rig can go to suction from either side, they fitted the tool and equipment compartments with electric lights, painted the whole unit fire department red, mounted the siren and red marker lights supplied by the fire department shops.
Then, less than sixtx days from the time the work was begun, before a neighborhood gathering, the unit was officially turned over to the City.
The whole unit is steel, so constructed that the whole body assembly can be lifted as a unit and placed on another chassis if need he.
The unit carries 1,000 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose, 900 feet of 1 1/2-inch, has a 130-gallon water tank connected to the pump for discharge into 1 1/2-inch or 1-inch lines, and facilities for carrying all the equipment of a regular tire fighting unit.
In accepting the unit. Chief Meinheit remarked:
“This unit and the efforts of these men have received favorable comment from many fire chiefs, municipal, OCD and other government officials and demonstrates that all is still well with this good old U. S. A. when a fine group of loyal citizens will do what these men did.
“The city paid $1,050 for the chassis. Uncle Sam loaned us a pump for nothing, industry and friends freely supplied scrap materials but you men who worked so diligently night after night on your own time after working hard all clay long producing the necessities of war have given us something that money can’t buy. You gave your love and your devotion, your unfaltering loyalty. You gave up time you could have spent with your family, resting, relaxing.
“Now, as the result of your untired efforts, you have assembled this fine fire truck to aid in the protection for us all. It is difficult to adequately express the appreciation of the people of this community,’ the city government and the fire department.”
Auxiliary Fireman Joseph Scaparro, an iron worker in a local plant, was the designer and leaderman on the job. Ably assisting him were auxiliary firemen including Elmer Allen, Vince Scaparro, Denny Scaparro, Stan Arth, Vince Majuri, Frank Scaparro, V. B. Collins, Ed Lazzershi, Larry De Martini, Frank DeCosta, W. Duke Turner, and F. Kirkham, all of them assigned as auxiliaries to Engine 1.