By Leo K. Najarian
WILLIAM L. MILLER
From L.A. Times
"William L. Miller, retired Chief Engineer, Los Angeles City Fire Department,
died June 4, 1989 in Lake Elsinore, CA. Immediate cremation."
"Los Angeles and its fire problems were dramatically different in 1956 from those
that William L. Miller found when he moved to Los Angels in 1928 from Iowa. Born January
31, 1906 in Morrison, Iowa, he arrived in the city shortly before the Wall Street stock
market crash. His Cedar Rapids Business College training at first led him into
administrative jobs, including district manager of circulation for the Los Angeles
Bill Miller joined the Los Angeles Fire Department during the depression,June 1, 1933
and was first assigned to Engine 63 in Venice. Career promotions followed in order.
Captain- 1940 -Engine 40
Battalion Chief- 1948 -Battalion 9
Assistant Chief (Fire Marshall)-
1954 -Fire Prevention Bureau
Chief Engineer & General Manager 1956-1965
Another position served by Bill Miller was as a Lieutenant Commander in charge of
damage control while attached to the Admiral's Staff in the South Atlantic Fleet in World
War II duty. Miller also served as 1941-1942 president of the Los Angeles Firemen's Relief
Association; a post no other firefighter who was to become Chief Engineer ever held.
Post war Los Angeles experienced a virtual explosion of growth in population and
industry - doubling in size. As Chief Engineer, Miller's challenge was to rebuild the fire
department to match this unprecedented escalation of development. He met his challenge
successfully as is documented in the LAFD publication "10 Years of Progress."
These accomplishments included:
- Successfully retained LAFD's Class 1 rating despite L.A.'s tremendous expansion and
growth through rebuilding and restricting the department, financially made possible by
passage of 14.5 M Bond issue-Prop. A
- Instituted first Fire Service Day in 1956 which expanded statewide in 1957.
- Passed ordinance banning all "open fires" in Los Angeles, greatly reducing the
fire losses and responses.
- Rebuilt many outdated fire stations, added new Fireboats (according to LAFD specs).
first Helicopter and Helitak Units, combined salvage and rescue operations. Advanced
airport (LAX & VAN NUYS) fire protection to meet the jet age.
Developed Rescue-Ambulance Service for patient transportation.
- Established the three platoon system, greatly increasing promotional positions and
- Conduced operation school burning tests published by NFPA in books I and II.
- Started program for Operation High Rise, formulating fireground procedures for major
- Established first Fire Research Laboratory for a fire department.
- Started and completed the stormy desegregation of the Fire Department during his tenure
as Fire Chief.
- With his work completed, William L. Miller retired on July 16, 1965.