Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

The photos on this page are shared with us from the Vernon Fire Department archives by Bill Hoeft, son of
Chief Hoeft of the Vernon Fire Department.
The fateful day in question was July 5, 1970. A report of smoke from an 8th floor window of the
Lankershim Hotel located at 710 South Broadway was phoned into Westlake Dispatch. Among other
apparatus from Station 3 that responded to the call was Snorkel 3.
Click here to see more apparatus from the
Los Angeles City Fire Department
Created April 16, 2011

While the boom was being raised to the 8th floor window in question, the rig toppled over.
Firefighter Thomas C. Collier was fatally injured. Captain Hillis Baker and Firefighter James Denning were also severely injured.
This call was later determined to have been a false alarm.

Firefighters are seen here hosing down spilled gasoline from Snorkel 3's fuel tank while the investigation continues

The Mack and Kenworth wreckers were used to raise the Snorkel's boom clear of the ground. They then rolled
backwards returning the boom to its nested position. The boom was then chained down to prevent further movement.

The Mack and Kenworth wreckers were then used as anchor points while the Crown wrecker positioned on
the opposite side of the Snorkel made the big pull to right the fallen rig.

The last pieces were picked up as well as the last of the spilled gasoline, hydraulic fluid and battery acid was cleaned up.
F1500 was taken to the LA City Shop for assessment.

The other big Snorkel that the LAFD had just received from Crown was immediately pulled from service pending an
investigation as to the cause of the failure of Snorkel 3. An investigation was conducted as to the specific cause of the
collapse by the City of Los Angeles, the Snorkel Company, and Crown Coach. F1500 was eventually taken back to
the Crown factory on 12th Street and completely dismantled for evaluation of proper operation. Fenders, running
boards, cab parts, ect. were eventually salvaged by the LAFD Shop for use on their fleet.
The specific cause for this accident was the outriggers on the right side of the apparatus were not deployed.
Ultimately, the Los Angeles Fire Department was found to be at fault for this accident, a fact that is continually denied.
Snorkel went on to make minor changes to its design which consisted of a boom lock which will not release until all
outriggers are in firm contact with the ground.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department disposed of their other big Snorkel the following year and did not purchase any
more big Snorkels. However, the City did purchase two additional 50 foot Snorkels from Crown in 1971.



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