Monday, September 12, 2011

Fire!

In Southern California, we are particularly vulnerable to fire, especially in the foothills. Dramatic wildfires, like the recent Station Fire, make us all grateful for a fire department. For Monrovia, structure fires drove the community to create a Volunteer Fire Department in March 1906. Jack Crandall acted as Fire Chief. In 1908
John A. Baxter donated a horse-drawn chemical cart with a few lengths of hose.

Alas, the Volunteers were wholly inadequate as fire fighters, allowing several structures to burn to the ground, including the aforementioned John A. Baxter's barn. Chief Crandall tried and failed to pass bonds for the purchase of equipment and hiring paid employees. He resigned in January 1910.

The City adopted Ordinance 491 on January 24, 1910. That ordinance created the Monrovia Fire Department. C.A. Goodale was appointed interim fire chief, and on February 7, 1910, John A. Baxter accepted the position as Fire Chief. He had four full-time firemen, 16 paid-call firemen, and the original donated chemical cart.

The department's first motorized hose and chemical truck was created from a remodeled so-called tourist automobile, debuting on February 19, 1910.

For the full story up through the Centennial, read Monrovia Centennial Review by Peter C. Ostrye, pages 139-147.