Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

Fire Station 33 Photo Gallery

F I R E  S T A T I O N  3 3
*  *  *  F I R E  C I T Y  *  *  *
6405 South Main Street





1964 - 1994

Fire Station 22

Fire Station 46  "A"
Fire Station 33  "A" & "C"

A typical day for Chief Morris begins with the Department mandated Wellness Program.  Here the Chief can be seen playing volleyball with his crew.

Samuel L. Morris

Chief Morris, seen here in full uniform, most likely on his way to a classroom lecture.  Chief Morris made numerous appearances at fire stations throughout the city.  These visits were for the morale and welfare of his men as well as training and enforcement of discipline.

Chief Morris was also a guest instructor at the LAFD  COMPANY OFFICER’S MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS COURSE.  A well know expert on extension cords and sawdust, Chief Morris's lectures were usually a highlight of the course.


by Chief Samuel L. Morris

Preparing for a Extension Cord lecture.

Chef Morris seen here demonstrating the proper
donning of a LAFD Suspension Harness.

A famous crooner, Chief Morris is seen here serenading a young fan on Fire Station 33's rooftop helicopter pad.  Sometimes called "Morris Under the Stars" these invitational only summertime events were very popular.

Here Chief Sam shows some moves.

Farewell to a Friend
Fire Station to Honor Disabled Volunteer Who Had to Give Up Beloved Duties


His voice is now a horse and halting whisper, its strength blocked by cancerous growths in his esophagus.  But when Samuel Morris speaks about how the Los Angeles Fire Department adopted him 30 years ago, his emotions come through loud and clear.
    “I miss it, just being there, just being with the guys,” said Morris, 43, described as the department’s most loyal volunteer, hanger-on and all around good luck symbol.
    The feelings are mutual.  On Sunday afternoon, firefighters are holding a formal retirement dinner for the disabled neighborhood kid who grew up to be “Chief of the 4th Division.”  The party is being held at Station 33, the busy South-Central firehouse where Morris performed so many chores over the years, even guarding it alone for two days during the 1992 riots.
    Never mind that the Fire Department has only three real divisions, that severe epilepsy beginning in adolescence kept Morris from becoming a real fireman.  Or that his so-called retirement occurred more than a year ago as worsening, and now life-

threatening  illnesses trapped him at home, where a constantly crackling radio scanner links him to the department he loves.
    “He is totally dedicated to the Fire Department.  So we decided, ‘Why don’t we have Sam really retire,’ “explained Si Clarke, one of the event’s organizers and himself a retired fire captain.  “This whole thing is putting the final touch to Sam’s career.”
    Tim Kerbrat, one of the captains at Station 33 agreed.  “We hopefully made his life a little better, and certainly he’s made our lives better,” he said.  :”It sounds corny and all, but that’s just about the way guys are.”
    Morris has mixed feelings about the retirement dinner.
    To be sure, the party is a great honor, he acknowledged, and a welcome break from watching television game shows and listening to the city wide fire scanner all day on a sofa in the bungalow he shares with his aunt and uncle.  Yet, it also signifies a finale he wanted to postpone 20 more years.
    “It means I’ll just have to stay here,” he said, smiling from the sofa with what seemed to be a mixture of gentle shyness and deep regret.
    Utterly breaking rules, firefighters sometimes strapped him into the rigs and took him to fire scenes, where he would wait in the truck and take notes. Usually, Morris would stay behind to open and close the station doors.  That saved firefighter’s valuable time in their rush to rescue fire or accident victims.
    By the mid 1980s, Morris was spending as many as 20 nights a month at Station 33 and kept a locker there.  He became very knowledgeable about fire regulations, mechanisms and traditions, and even was allowed to deliver to rookies a required lecture about uses of sawdust in soaking up water.
    “Sam was physically disabled, but he was plenty smart,” Clarke said.
    Most important, stressed his aunt, Bettie Mullin, firefighters offered camaraderie and purpose after his classmates at Dorsey High School and Los Angeles City College went on to have careers and children.  Morris has never married or held a full time paid job, although he did earn a two-year college degree, she said.
    “The Fire Department was his life,” said Mullin, who takes care of Morris at her home about 40 blocks from Station 33.  “In other words, he wouldn’t be living today if it weren’t for the Fire Department.  He feels happiest with the Fire Department, like it’s his family. And to see him happy was great to me.”
    All that nearly ended about 15 years ago when someone sent Morris on a paperwork chore to Downtown headquarters. He reportedly was wearing a regulating Fire Department uniform.  Angry at the sight, superiors popped a cork and ordered Station 33 to dump Morris, veterans recall.
    A quiet mutiny ensued, according to Clarke.  We just kept Sam out of public view and kept him in the station until it was forgotten,” he said.  However, from then on, Morris’ hand-me-down uniforms did not include the badges and ornaments that full-fledged firefighter’s must wear.
    Within reach are his wheelchair, cane and medicine.  Also close at hand are mementos of his volunteer career.  There is his Division 4 chief’s helmet, a gift that firefighters painted black to distinguish it from a real chiefs white headgear.  And there are Morris’ meticulously handwritten journal books, recording big blazes, smoky ovens, heart attacks, false alarms and car wrecks handled during his shifts at Station 33.  For example, the entry for June 24, 1986, details a fire at a metal salvage yard that required 300 feet of hosing for an hour and caused about $100,000 damage.
    Even as a 5-year-old, Morris loved to watch fire engines zoom by, his relatives recall.  When he was about 11, he began riding buses to visit various firehouses, eventually staying to help clean rigs, cook and play chess with the men.  They bought him clothes, fed him, protected him form bullies and eased him through his frequent epileptic seizures.
    “We see a lot of fire buffs,” said Fire Capt. Douglas Graft, commander of Station 33.  “But Sam is more of a friend to the Fire Department, not a fire buff.  He is more concerned about the people in the fire station.”
    Reflecting a softer attitude toward Morris, the current department brass approved Sunday’s party.  Fire engines will be pulled out of the station, located at 6406 S. Main St., to the side yard to make room for tables and chairs.  The menu is to include pasta, salad and a lot of anecdotes about the 4th Division’s chief.  Morris will be presented certificates of appreciation and a facsimile of a retired division chief’s badge.
    Morris has not decided whether he will give a speech.  But if he doesn’t, he wants “the guys” to know “it was nice to work with them and if they ever need me, just call me.  Just keep in contact.”




March 8, 1952   -     October 14, 1995

In Honor Of My Dear Son

The years, days and hours we spent together shall never be forgotten, for they were filled with joy.  Sometimes sorrow, but God was always there.

Death is the gate to heaven only God has the key.  As sure as I live, I’ll meet you there and we shall praise God together ten thousand years.



    SAMUEL L. MORRIS PHELPS was born in Los Angeles, California March 8, 1952.  He attended 37th Street Elementary School, James A. Foshay Jr. High School, Dorsey High School and Los Angeles City College earning his AA degree. After college he made the Los Angele Fire Department, which he loved, his life long career.

    Samuel was a “Special Gift” to all who knew him.  From an early age he was deeply touched and influenced by the word of Jesus Christ.  His life was an example of kindness and generosity.  He touched many lives in a very special way.  He departed this life on Saturday, October 14, 1995 at 12:45 in the afternoon.

    Samuel leaves to cherish his memory, a loving mother, Alice F. Garcia; his step father, Ricardo B. Garcia; his sister, Charlesetta L. Morris; his brother, William H. Morris; his uncle, Charles H. Jackson; his beloved aunt and uncle, Bettie J. and Eddie C. Mullin and a host of other relatives and friends.

Samuel L. Morris was buried October 20, 1995 at Inglewood Park Cemetery.  He was laid to rest in Captain Si Clarke’s dress uniform.


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