Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

Down Memory Lane
Chief Scott


  It would be well for all firemen, especially those who have entered the service in recent years, to study the background of the LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT, and study it well, for without doubt this department is the greatest in the nation, and being just that there is a mighty good reason, and by that I mean it has always maintained men of the highest caliber to conduct and direct the affairs of the department, and build its personnel of men, for fire fighting, that any city could well be proud of. It has been my good fortune to be personally acquainted with every Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles Fire Department from the year 1893 on down through the years, with the exception of our latest fine man to head the Department, Chief Miller.

  As I have mentioned time and again that out of every 10,000 humans born there is at least one leader, one who stands out head and shoulders above the rest of us, what might be termed the run of the mill kind. The Fire Department, as far as I know has always been headed by men who worked their way up in the department, and not mere politicians, or favorite pets of the political mighty. There can be no question but that men who worked their way from the rank of Hoseman on up in the department, and who know and understand just what it is all about, make the very best to head the department. If any one doubts that, just take a glance at the history of the Police Department, which suffered many times the mistake of bringing men from other walks of life, into the Chief's office to head the department, only to find each and every one a failure, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt, that any department to be successful, has to be headed by men with actual experience. Which only stands to reason, for a blacksmith, with no medical experience, could never be a successful doctor, and that goes for all lines of endeavor, you have just got to know how, to do anything well.

  Away back along the rugged pathway of "Memory Lane" we find that of June 1, 1905, there came into the Fire Department a fine young man, who was one of the born leaders I have been telling you about, and who was not only destined to become, in later years, Chief Engineer of the L.A. Fire Department, but also one of Los Angeles' most prominent citizens, beloved by all who know him, and a real friend to the fire laddies from the first day of service, and I am speaking of CHIEF ENGINEER RALPH J. SCOTT. Chief Scott did much in laying the foundation for the nation's finest fire department, his advancement was rapid, and we find that on May 1, 1909, Ralph--as we lovingly like to call him--was appointed Captain. The years that followed found Ralph growing more and more into the hearts of his brother firemen, and of the citizens of Los Angeles. On July 17, 1919, he became Battalion Chief Engineer and the very next day, July 18, 1919, Ralph became Chief Engineer of the L.A. Fire Department. His rapid advancement in the department from his first appointment as Fireman is not recorded here in full detail, as he held the position as Lieutenant and other positions, and served a lot of time at Engine No.2's at First & Chicago, but from the very first proved he was outstanding in any position to which he was assigned. After serving many years as one of Los Angeles' most efficient Fire Chiefs, as well as one who helped build this great department to the nation's top, Ralph retired after more than thirty-five years of faithful service on April 1, 1940. We who loved him, and knew him so well, shall never forget the many pleasant visits we have had with him and his splendid record with the Fire Department.

  Chief Scott now resides with his charming wife at No.3692 Lowry Road, phone
Normandy 1-1014, and in conclusion let me say our hats are off to one of the Los Angeles Fire Department's greatest--Chief Ralph J. Scott--may his years be many and his health the best, is the wish of all of the old-timers along MEMORY LANE.


This article appeared in the June 1957 issue of THE FIREMAN'S GRAPEVINE.

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