Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

JULY 20, 1929

A Great Fire-Fighter

R ALPH J. SCOTT has been head of the Los Angeles Fire Department ten years. It is a record for length of service here, but that by no means is all that distinguishes Chief Scott's command. In a decade under him the department has multiplied in personnel and equipment and grown in effectiveness as a fire-fighting and fire-prevention force, until it takes rank with the best in the land. The chief never has been satisfied with merely putting out fires when they have started; he has worked even harder to drill his force in the art of preventing fires, and teaching that art to citizens, a service the value of which is reflected in fire insurance rates. And this has been made possible because the chief was undisturbed in his position. He had nothing to fear of politics, and changes of the city government affected him none. The fact that he has served ten years therefore is very important, and another ten years' service will still be more valuable.



JULY 18, 1929


Scott Puts City Department
on High Footing
Great Strides in Personnel
and Equipment
Occupancy of Commanding
Post Sets Mark

  Ralph J. Scott, Chief engineer of the Los Angeles Fire Department, today is completing the tenth year of his service in that capacity, the longest period the position ever had been occupied by any chief officer since the organization of the volunteer department in 1876. He is 46 years of age and the past twenty-four years of his life have been spent in the service.

  Prior to his regime the Los Angeles Fire Department was concerned principally with the extinguishing of fires, with little emphasis placed on other elements associated with the public safety. In the last ten years it has undergone a decided broadening of scope so that today it ranks high among fire departments in the matter of efficiency modern equipment, organization and service to the public.

                          TEN-YEAR GROWTH
  In July, 1919 the department was composed of but 726 men. There were fifty-seven pieces of apparatus and the entire department included thirty-three engine companies, two hose wagons, seven ladder trucks, a water tower and one small fire boat. Today there are 213 piece of firefighting apparatus, ninety-six passenger cars, seventy-one engine companies, twenty truck companies, four foamite wagons, eight salvage wagons, two rescue companies, three fire boats, three mountain patrol stations and twenty-one volunteer companies. The number of employees has increased to 1646.

  One of the first changes made by Chief Scott when he became head of the department was from the steam fire engine to the motor-propelled and motor-pumping engine. Although the motor engines still were in an experimental stage, he realized that the day of the steam engine had passed. In less than two years he had brought about a complete change to the new type of apparatus.

                      OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
   Other developments in the department which have been conceived and organized by Chief Scott are the bureau of arson investigation, as a result of which arson fires have been held down; the bureau of public relations, which has to do with the education of the public regarding common fire risks which may be eliminated, in rescue work, with two companies of trained men ready for service in any part of the city in cases of drowning, asphyxiation, pneumonia, poisoning, etc. There have been many cases also where members of the department, with their respiratory and resuscitation apparatus, have restored babies, dead at birth, to life.

  The salvage work, which deals with the protection of household goods, valuable personal property and commercial wares from damage by water, has served to reduce loss by water damage.

                          ADVANCES AT HARBOR
   Realizing the commercial importance of Los Angeles Harbor Chief Scott has worked vigorously for increased fire protection for that district, with the result that the firefighting strength there has approximately quadrupled in the past ten years.

  One of the most outstanding features of the department is the Los Angeles Fire College started in January, 1925. Every member of the department has received instruction there. The result is a fire department personnel second to none in the United States.

  A type of extinguishing agent known as CO-2 is the latest development of the department for use on fires in confined spaces; the mountain patrol division was instituted in Chief Scott's regime for the construction and maintenance of fire breaks and the fighting of brush fires; during 1923-24 the entire fire alarm system was reconstructed and modernized and new buildings, under the supervision of Superintendent Charles O. Brittain, have been built with an idea of permanency.

  During Scott's regime department working conditions have improved, salaries have been made to meet the rising costs of living, improvements have been incorporated into the pension law and department athletics have been instituted and placed on a sound footing.


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