Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

                           Chief R. J. Scott to Retire
                                         After 35 Years of Service

  Leaving the Fire Department after thirty-five years of continuous service, nearly twenty-one of which having been served as Chief Engineer, R. J. Scott has been granted pension retirement effective April 1, 1940. This is a record not equaled by any predecessor, and whether it will be in the future is too far hence to be of great concern to anyone now disposed to speculate.

  Probably that record will never be exceeded. It was the Chief's good fortune to attain his high office during the closing of one of epoch and the dawning of another. The battle of a decade over the question of horses versus automotive power had finally been settled in favor of the latter. The Fire Department rode on the crest of the universal prosperity. Salary raises were obtained without difficulty through the City authorities, and when the latter failed, the people of the City authorized further increases through initiative ordinance. By bond issue, two and one-half millions provided the Department with new buildings, new engines, more companies. A succeeding bond issue built a new fire boat. The pension system was improved by direct action of the people. It was the heyday of prosperity and progress, and the Fire Department shared in it. Members were amazed by their own successes. Alert to these trends of the times, Chief Scott overlooked no opportunity to take advantage of them for the upbuilding of the Fire Department, and in a short span of years became known as one of the most progressive fire chiefs of the Nation.

  By vigorously proclaiming his devotion to the welfare of Departmental personnel, he rapidly built up a reputation as a leader which will probably never be surpassed in this or any other similar organization. He was heroic in stature in the eyes of his men. His domination of departmental policy was complete and unquestioned. If Chief Scott was in favor of a proposition its success was a practical certainty. If he was convinced as to its wisdom or practicability, no one had temerity to push the matter further. He was feted at a thousand banquet tables. His favor was curried by the great and near-great, and in 1930 he was further honored by the presidency of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

  Then came Depression. As always, hard times are not as quickly felt in municipal service as in private industry, but belts had to be tightened a little. Came then the day when men were asked to accept a salary deduction. Such was the power and influence of the Chief that for more than three years regular salary deductions were willingly consented to by the members, a remarkable fact, considering that due to the establishment of salary scales by law the written consent of each man was necessary to bring the reduction about.

  More recent Departmental history needs no elaboration here. Demoralizing influences from without had their effects within the Department, and the "Old Man" found himself more and more with his back to he wall. At length he elected to turn the leadership over to other hands.

  On April 1st, Chief Scott closes a brilliant Fire Department career. Faults and weaknesses he had, but graft and corruption were not among them. Bitter were the attacks of his enemies, vigorous was his defense. He established many functions in the Department which came as innovations, remained as fixtures. No Department has finer apparatus, none is better officered, none is better trained. A proud record for any man to look back upon. Fair-minded men of the Department will base their estimate upon the history in its entirety, not upon some incident of it.



                          JOHN H. ALDERSON TO
                                  BE TEMPORARY CHIEF
                                          PENDING NEW EXAM

"I will lift mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my strength."

   John H. Alderson was appointed Fireman in the Los Angeles Fire Department on September 2nd, 1923. On April 1st, 1929, he was appointed Captain, having attained No. 1 place upon the eligible list for that position, and was further promoted to Battalion Chief on October 16, 1935. By action of the Board of Fire Commissioners he was appointed Chief Engineer effective April 1st, 1940. He takes active command of the Department immediately, pending the coming vacancy. The appointment is temporary of course, pending Civil Service examination and the production of an eligible list.

  Exacting are the qualifications demanded of a leader at this time, and few there are who can demonstrate them.

  The Grape Vine believes that the Fire Commission acted with wisdom in the selection of John H. Alderson as Chief Engineer, and that the Department will applaud that choice. Born in Maryland, June 7th, 1898, he is still a young man. Having less than 17 years service in the Department, he has many years of service before him. The membership of the Department has for five consecutive terms elected him as representative in the Fire and Police Protective League, and in that hard school he learned his way around.

  Chief Alderson, we believe we voice the thought of the great majority as we contemplate your past record, your character and demonstrated courage, and thereon base with confidence our hope for your success in the great task which lies before you. We pledge our support to this end.

These articles appeared in the March 15, 1940 issue of THE GRAPE VINE.

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