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A directive from the Board of Fire Commis-

sions to Fire Chief Alderson in 1955 resulted in the following commendations: On the presentation of specifications for the bids and purchase of five triple combination pumping engines, the bids were reviewed very carefully. There was considerable dis- cussion with respect to the expert manner in which these specifications had been pre- pared and particularly the fact that practi- cally all of California and many other por- tions of the United States are looking to the LAFD for advice on specifications.

This means that you are doing an outstand- ing job in the preparation of these specifica- tions and the City of Los Angeles and the Fire Department will benefit for many years to come. I commend you on the excellent job you are doing not only on the specifications but with respect to your entire responsibility in Supply and Maintenance.

Chief Gifford achieved his greatest

personal satisfaction, and no doubt the greatest single contribution to the operations of the LAFD with the development and final delivery of Boat 4. Gifford actually spent untold thousands of hours dreaming, breathing and living Boat 4 while laying its plans. Bethel spent many hours of his own time in research, reading, talking and asking people about fire boats - even to the extent of spending his vacation time traveling, visiting and talking to people who could enlighten him in any way on these kinds of boats. He was person- ally responsible for researching, planning, engi- neering, building, outfitting, testing, and finally for the ultimate delivery of the boat in the Port of Los Angeles, were it was accepted by the Mayor and the Fire Department on February 22, 1962. The Boat 4 project, from its formative

stage to its delivery, took about three years. Chief Gifford made at least 15 trips to San Francisco and Portland, visiting Norgard Architects and the Albina Engine and Machine Works during the architectural and construction phases of the Boat. On the trip to Portland, for the chris-

tening, the Chief took his granddaughter, Beth Ann Tapert, 7, who smashed the red, white and blue-wrapped champagne bottle against the bow of Boat 4 as she slid down the ways and into the river on a very rainy day, December 27, 1961. On February 14, 1962, Chief Gifford

started the final phase of his pet project - the trip of the boat, under her own power, from Portland to Los Angeles. According to Gifford, “this was one of the wildest boat rides I have ever experi- enced. As we were passing Astoria in high seas and foul weather, we experienced 15 to 20-foot waves, and I decided then and there that if we got through this, the boat was capable of anything. We made it in eight days and two stops.” Engi- neer Sam Le Doux of Boat 4 and a crew from Albina also made the exciting trip.

April 2012 • 51

photo oF all laFd FireBoats taken in Front oF old Boat 2’s quarters on terminal island. CirCa 1970’s

The official acceptance ceremonies for

Boat 4 occurred on Thursday, February 22, 1962, at a dock next to Boat 2’s quarters before a large and enthusiastic gathering of citizens who had also witnessed the new boat’s arrival. Many City officials, including Mayor Yorty, attended. Assistant Fire Chief Bethel F. Gif-

ford, a veteran firefighter with almost 35 years of service, passed away while on active duty on January 18, 1964. The preceding comments by the people who knew and worked with him are a great tribute to the sincere, respected and understanding man who dedicated his life to the betterment of the Los Angeles Fire Department. He served the Department, the City and the com- munity well. Chief Gifford was a Mason and a Shriner. Indirectly, Chief Gifford will be praised and thanked many times by members who op- erate Department equipment that is first-class in its operation, efficiency, power, endurance and reputation throughout the fire service because of the efforts and energies of this man.

Although he fought the idea of nam-

ing Boat 4, it seems to this writer that it might be proper and fitting and certainly worthy of dedicating the memory of this Assistant Chief by affixing the name of Bethel Gifford to the Super- Structure of Boat 4.

WAnteD! We are looking for our vintage Nicro

stainless steel vacuum coffee pots. The kind ev- ery fire station used in years past. We want to dis- play one or two in the Hollywood Museum in the kitchen, We may even make a pot or two with it. I think I remember how from the “old days.” We are asking all stations to look in the back of your cupboards or storage lockers to see if you still have one. If so, give us a call or email.

wanted – vintaGe niCro stainless steel vaCuum CoF- Fee pot like the ones piCtured.

new laFd FireBoat 4 enterinG the la harBor on its voyaGe From oreGon on FeBruary 22, 1962.

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