Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive


John H. Alderson and Frank H. Rothermel
Raised to Highest Positions in Department

    After holding the office in an acting and temporary capacity since March 1 of this year, John H. Alderson was on May 20th given official regular appointment as Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles Fire Department.  On the same day Frank H. Rothermel, who placed second in the same civil service examination, was regularly appointed Deputy Chief.  Herbert A. Krumsiek, who did not complete for either position, returned to his regular assignment as Headquarters Assistant Chief.

    Chief Alderson's excellent rating in examination, and his unanimous selection by the Board of Fire Commissioners to head the administrative branch of the Department, was no great surprise to the rank and file.  Seventeen years in the Department, he had served in every section of the city except the Harbor District.  Without going into discussion as to the reason for these many assignments, they did in fact broaden the personal acquaintance of the Chief with the Department and its members.  His intimate and general knowledge of the Department, acquired the hard way, should stand him in good stead now.  Probably no officer of the service now knows so many of the men personally, or can call so many by name.  This close personal contact he proposes to maintain.  He will become no stranger to the engine houses.

    We have a man in this high office who will be chief in fact as well as in name;  whose education and culture will enable him to creditably represent the Department in any company;  whose intestinal fortitude needs no proof before any man whose experience in this fire department embraces even a few past years;  who can be hard, sympathetic;  commanding, kindly;  fearless, courteous;  whose quick wit will analyze situations in the making;  whose humor will save him from discouragement;  whose perception will make him a hard man to be caught off guard.  Who wishers to be the first to attempt to pull the wool over the new chief's eyes?

    Physically, the various factors are promising.  Alderson is a young man, the unanimous choice of the Executive Board, whose members therefore have a heavy stake in him.  He has the assurance of the Board, whose members therefore have a heavy stake in him.  He has the assurance of the Board that he will be a general manager in fact, with no official interference except as the Board may believe him in error.  The man of the hour in the Fire Department, he was ready for the opportunity when it came.  And he had faith that this Department need not regard any past attainment as the ultimate.

This article appeared in the June 15, 1940 issue of the FIREMAN'S GRAPEVINE.

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