To the Honorable Mayor, City Council and Board of Fire Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles.
In compliance with Section 64, Article 4, of the Charter of the City of Los Angeles, I have the honor to submit herein the Forty-fourth Annual Report of the Los Angles Fire Department.
The following pages cover, for the most part in a statistical manner, the activities of the Department, including personnel and salaries, appropriations, receipts and expenditures, and a synopsis of accomplishment as submitted by the heads of various departmental subdivisions.
During the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1930, the department received 11,196 alarms of fire, including 1,226 false alarms, being the net number of 9,970 actual fires. The total fire loss sustained was $1,621,275.00, in comparison with $3,846,003.00 of the year immediately preceding. The total area of the city is now 441.68 square miles, and the population, according to the Federal census, is 1,231,830.
During this year, due to scarcity of departmental funds, no important additions have been made to the department personnel. In the higher ranks of the department, the position of Second Assistant Chief was abolished, and officers holding this position, five in number, were ranked as First Assistant Chief. Two additional such positions were created by ordinance, and the appointees have been stationed in the Hollywood district, which is a territory of high value, involving exceptionally great fire hazards, and remote approximately eight miles from the business center of Los Angeles. Steps have been taken to install an adequate cost accounting system for the department by the provision in the salary ordinance for the position of Cost Accountant, who has laid the groundwork for such a system to be put into effect on the 1st of July. At the close of the present fiscal year the membership of the department, all ranks included, stood at 1,718, representing an increae of 71 above the figure of a year ago. The increase in the department has not, however, been commensurate with the growth of the city.
While no engine or truck companies were added during the year, an important major improvement was made by the construction of a new building at the corner of Wilcox and DeLongpre avenues in the Hollywood district, which will be occupied on July 1st by Engine Co. No. 27, Hose Co. No. 2, Truck Co. No. 9, Rescue Co. No. 2, and Salvage Co. No. 4. We regard this as a very fine building and a credit to the district and to the departement. While not entirely completed at this writting, it is designed to complete it after occupancy, thereby making a substantial saving in rental, these companies having for some months been quartered in rented premises. The new building will represent a departmental expenditure of approximately $99,627.00
It was possible during the past year to maintain a crew of laborers steadily in the mountain areas of the city, occupied in the clearing of existing firebreaks and the building additonal breaks. During the past three months, by special appropriation, we have been able to employ one hundred men steadily. It has been of great advantage to the district that this has been done, as valuable firebreaks have been constructed and the men have been readily available for assistance in firefighting upon the occasion of fires which from time to time occure in that area.
An important civic issue was presented by the special election in May, 1930, when the question of passage of a $38,000,000 water-bond issue came before the voters. The fire department, at the requet of the Citizens Bond Committee, placed its organization and resources actively in support of the bonds and undoubtedly aided in their passage, being jointly represented in this work with the police department, through the Fire and Police Protective League, which is an organization drawing membership from both departments.
Aside from the customary activities of the depatment, educational work has claimed the greatest amount of attention. The personnel of the Fire College has been augmented by one instructor, making a total of six membes engaged in this work to the exclusion of all else. This Fire College was the scene of the first comprehansive course of fire department instrucion given under the auspices of the Internatinal Association of Fire Chiefs, by the carrying through of a 90-day course of study to which all fire chiefs of the Pacific Coast States were invited. These activities are more fully set forth in the pages to follow.
For several years Los Angeles has suffered a distinct fire and life hazard by the use of natural gas for domestic and industrial purposes. Natural gas has no odor, with the rsult that leaks resulting form broken pipes or open and defective fixtures have been difficult of detection. Many serious explosions, some involving loss of life, have been the result, and the department has consistently urged that some odorant be added to the natrual gas supply in order to furnish the public with the means of detecting escaping gas. By the energetic co-operation of the gas companies and the assistance of the research department of the larger oil corporations, a by-product of petroleum was developed which when added to the gas gives a distinctive odor which is at once accepted by the public as being associated with gas. Since its introductin into the mains it is reported by the gas companises that complaints of leaks have increased ten-fold, proving without question that it is efficacious and an important safety measure.
The "Twenty-four-hour System" of work in this department, which I reported last year as being established tentatively, proved satisfactory to the great majority of membes, and this system, upon adoption by the Board of Fire Commissioners at meeting of September 19th, 1929, became a permanent arrangement. Members of the department, after a 90-day trial, voted in a majority exceding four to one for the adoptioion of this schedule, to which expression the Board of Fire Commissioners acceded. Working shifts now change at 8:00 a.m. each day.
Major purchases during the year including the following:
The above, with miscellaneous minor equipment, including salvage covers, brush-fire fighting equipment, office suplies, furniture and furnishings, ladders, nozzles, valves, etc., represents a total equipment expenditure of $362,324.17.
The past year, while not a year of progress such as might be desired, has witnessed some departmental improvement and a continued display of consistent high morale in the departmental personnel which is so essential to the success of any organization. In this connection I must express my appreciation from a middle point of view; I am greatly indebted to my superiors for courteous treatment and a disposition to allow the Fire Department all that is of Budget and Efficiency, the members of the City Council, Board of Fire Commissioners, and other worthy city officials and civic organizations as well; and, with partiuclar gratification, I can look downward through the ranks and see everywhere manifested the loyalty and esprit de corps which has been in the past, and is in the present, so vital a factor in accomplishment and success.
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