Los Angeles County Dedicates Training Center
—L. A. County F. D. Photo by
AMERICAS NEWEST FIRE TRAINING CENTER was formally dedicated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department on the morning of November 14.
More than 300 guests gathered on the beautiful, 4.62 acre site in the City Terrace Section east of the Los Angeles Civic Center to witness the ceremonies by which the $362,000 training facility was dedicated, as a living memorial to the late L. A. County Fire Chief Cecil R. Gehr.
Chief Gehr was killed on July 14, 1953, while responding to a forest fire alarm in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Attending the ceremonies were fire chiefs from throughout Southern California as well as city, state, county, and civic leaders.
Among the guests were Dr. John Gerletti, Director of the Fire Administration Training Program of the University of Southern California and Dr. Keith Arnold, University of California School of Forestry and Manager of “Operation Firestop.”
Also attending were Mrs. Gehr, widow of Chief Gehr, and his two sons, George and William.
After being introduced by County Fire Chief Keith E. Klinger, Mrs. Gehr spoke briefly and unveiled a bronze plaque in her husband’s memory. The plaque is mounted on the wall of the training headquarters.
Then the guests watched a wellexecuted drill by County Engines 3 and 32, Truck 27, Rescue 39, under Battalion Chief K. W. Bicksler.
The training center, including the drill tower, contains over 15,515 square feet of floor space.
There are more than four acres of blacktopped paved area available for drilling. Located in this area are the four different types of hydrants used by the department and the underground fire engine testing sump with 52,000-gallon capacity. Four rigs may be tested here at one time.
—L. A. County F. D. Photo by Landrum
The center, which is surrounded bv chain link security fences, consists additionally of the drill tower and the combination training station and center headquarters.
Five-Story Drill Tower
The tower has five floors and is 65 feet high with an outside fire escape and interior stairs. There are smoke chambers to provide for gas and smoke training. The basement is sprinkled and basement stairs are of metal construction. The tower has four different types of windows, and intensive training is given on opening these windows without use of an axe. The tower also has a complete public address system throughout with both interior and exterior speakers.
The two-level headquarters building contains a complete fire station with space for three engines and a truck. Dormitory facilities for 15 trainees are provided with space for two captains included. There are modern kitchen facilities and a classroom-auditorium which will seat 200. This room is equipped with all modern training aids and a permanent fire equipment display.
The ground floor of the structure contains space for vehicle storage, fire prevention bureau storage, fire alarm repair room, and a fire prevention laboratory.
A new 1000-g.p.m. triple combination unit, with a 500 gallon tank, has been purchased and is stationed at the center for training purposes. Completely equipped including two-way radio, the rig is available for greater alarm responses. An OCD rig is also quartered at the center.
The training center is located above and adjacent to the department’s modern headquarters building. Nearby also are the fine training facilities of the County Sheriff’s Department and the Sheriff s radio center.
The center was proposed by retired Chief Spence D. Turner in 1947. Deputy Chief Joseph J. Davis and Battalion Chief George R. Tavlor, both also retired now, were also very active in securing plans from other departments for study.
Students in a fire administration course at U. S. C. each prepared a paper on requirements for a modern drill center. John P. Hughes, County F. D.’s Assistant Fire Rating Analyst, made a study of these papers in 1952 for Chief Gehr.
Departments throughout the United States were contacted or visited by Chief Klinger or Battalion Chief Lewis A. Mabie, department training officer. Some of the departments included Fresno, Calif.; New Haven, Conn.; L. A. City; Burbank, Calif.; Pasadena, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Rochester, N. 5.; Dayton, Ohio; State of Pennsylvania Fire Training School; Santa Monica, Calif.
Work began in August, 1954, and was completed in August, 1955.
100 Rookies Trained
Because of a serious lack of firemen, caused by the department’s phenomenal growth, 100 rookies already have been trained. Personnel receive all training at the center except for oil field work, which is done at Engine 17 in the Santa Fe Springs oilfield district where elaborate equipment for this type of training is located.
Departmental drill manuals have been completely revised to take full advantage of the center’s new facilities. Beginning January 1, 1956, an intensive in-service training program commenced for captains. As soon as all captains have completed their course, an engineer’s course will begin. Personnel report to the center for their work.
“We are extremely proud of this center,” commented Chief Klinger. “It will enable us to train even better firemen and in a profession where superior training may save a man’s life, we feel that our money has been well spent.
“It is only fitting that this facility, where we hope hundreds of young men will begin their fire service careers, be dedicated to Cecil R. Gehr, a fireman’s fireman.”
—L. A. County F. D. Photo by Landrum