Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

Pasadena Dedicates New Fire Station to James H. Shern

Photo By Herb Shoebridge

Fire Chief James H. Shern entered the Fire Service in 1948. He retired from the Los Angeles City Fire Department as a Battalion Chief in September 1972 and was appointed Fire Chief for the City of Pasadena on July 31, 1972 and retired February 6, 1981. He served as President of the Intentional Association of Fire Chiefs and received numerous citations and awards for excellence in his field.

The City of Pasadena has dedicated its new Fire Station, No. 36, to the memory of former Fire Chief James H. Shern.

  Shern, the first black fire chief in a city with a population over 100,000, was appointed fire chief July 13, 1972, and retired February 6, 1981, for health reasons. He died January 26, 1982.

  Shern was known throughout the United States as one of the most knowledgeable people in the field of fire protection and bad a long list of publications and memberships to his credit. He and the fire chiefs of Burbank and Glendale centralized fire dispatching services for all three cities, as well as a cooperative automatic move-up system, which is still operating today as the Verdugo Communications System.

  Shern came to Pasadena as fire chief from Los Angeles, where he was the first black battalion chief, and received many honors during his lifetime, including the "Outstanding Citizen Award" from the Boy Scouts of America, an "Outstanding Achievement" award from the Los Angeles City Council, and saw a Los Angeles City Fire Station dedicated in his honor. He also served as President of the International Fire Chief's Association and President of the Foothill Fire Chief's Association.

This article appeared in the February 1991 issue of the Fireman's Grapevine

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