Los Angeles makes major changes
THE MOST EXTENSIVE reorganization in the history of the Los Angeles City Fire Department has been approved by the city council and is now under way. Completion of the plan is scheduled for January 1, 1961, when the department will be threeplatooned in all fire fighting field positions from battalion chief to fireman.
In addition, the following changes will or already have been made: Vast expansion of the city’s rescue service, reduction of field battalions from 16 to 14, expansion of field divisions from four to five plus establishment of a Mountain Patrol Division, and a radical change of assignment for assistant chiefs who have been serving as field division commanders. Also included in the “package” presented by Chief William L. Miller to the city council were the closing of two old fire stations in the downtown area and the construction of eight new stations during the 1960-61 fiscal year.
Closing of the two stations, 16 and 23, will not affect tactical operations in the central district. Both are old stations constructed during the days of horse-drawn equipment and their first-in areas can be easily covered from adjacent stations.
The three-platooning came after nearly four years of extensive study by Chief Miller, Administrative Deputy Chief Don Hibbard and other executives of the L.A.F.D. It will solve deficiency in company officer and battalion chief ranks that has seriously hampered maximum efficiency of the department, according to Chief Miller.
One hundred and twenty-eight new captain’s positions will be authorized and filled, bringing strength to 472. The change-over will bring an immediate increase of 377 engineer ranks. No further appointments will be made in the old auto-fireman (driver) classification.
Another major point will be elimination of the city’s five existing rescue companies in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, West L. A., Southwest L. A. and the Harbor. Under the new plan rescue units will be combined with salvage companies in all sections of the city except the San Fernando Valley where the existing rescue-ambulance service will continue. Salvage units use trucks with compartmentalized bodies and will be easily converted into dual use. Conversion of the salvage units to the new “squad” companies started in July and when completed there will be 15 two-man squad units.
One fully manned salvage company will remain in service at Station 28 in the downtown area to service the high-value district. Existing squad 23, a unit which carries special breathing equipment and other tools and is used to provide manpower in the high-value district—and elsewhere when needed—will be moved to new Station 9 when completed.
Field battalions reduced
Field battalions will be reduced from 16 to 14 and divisions will be increased from four to five plus a Mountain Patrol Division. Under the new plan, assistant chiefs, who have served as commanders of the four field divisions on a three-shift basis, will work a 40-hour week in more of an administrative capacity.
Division command posts will be at Station 10 in the southern part of Downtown; Station 27, Hollywood; Station 38, Harbor; Station 39, Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley; Station 92, Rancho Park in West L. A., and the Mountain Patrol.
In addition, three assistant chiefs will work 24-hour duty to cover large fires at night. They probably will operate out of Station 6, adjacent to the Freeway interchange just west of Downtown. During days, these chiefs will receive headquarters assignments. The battalion and division changes were expected to take place October 1.
The last major change in the L. A. Fire Department administrative structure occurred in 1956 when seven deputy chief positions were authorized to provide a new executive complex for the department. Chief Miller reports that an extensive training program has been set up for officers in all new positions and also for personnel in squad companies.