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At our municipal airports--expertly

trained crash crews man the most powerful and specialized aircraft crash fire fighting engines in existence; protecting the entry and exit of 6 1/2 million air passengers each year. In addition, conventional crews and

fire engines protect aircraft, manufacturing and allied facilities of these leading air termi- nals of the world. Crash crews of the Los Ange- les Fire Department have an enviable record in assisting safe landings of aircraft in trouble. Los Angeles is the only major city

having specially organized forces of trained men and specialized equipment to combat brush fires. The City of Los Angeles has one of the largest trained forces of brush fire fighters in the United States. Historically, conflagrations in cities

frequently come from uncontrolled brush fires entering the city proper. It is well known to most of you, that in spite of the fastest burning ground cover in the nation, and with hundreds of incipient fires in the city each year, none has ever reached conflagration proportions. None has ever penetrated beyond the fringe areas of mountain dwellings. Each year my office receives hundreds of letters of praise for the excellent work of our firemen in saving homes and lives during these fasting moving fires. Throughout this great city a hundred

stations house 3,000 of the world’s finest fire- men and what will soon be the most modern fleet of fire engines in existence anywhere. What kind of men are these firemen?

First, they are selected only through competi- tive examination; with requirements so rigid that but a handful of each thousand applicants ever gains admittance. Our firemen are com- munity leaders in churches, Red Cross, profes- sional groups, PTA, Chambers of Commerce, service clubs, Scouting, Woodcraft and youth work throughout the city. Our ranks include many members with college degrees in the

fields of public administration, law and the sciences. Firemen are good neighbors, family men, home-loving citizens--doing their bit in every-day life to build a greater Los Angeles. In their profession they have no

equal. Los Angeles is the largest major city to have a class one fire department. This distinc- tion and excellence has been recognized for 14 years by the National Board of Fire Underwrit- ers and the Pacific Fire Rating Bureau, which through repeated reductions in fire insurance rates, have saved Los Angeles property owners millions of dollars in premiums. Even more significant is the record

of life safety. If the United States, as a whole, enjoyed the same degree of fire safety as do the citizens of Los Angeles, over 7,700 persons (including 1,200 children) who died in fires last year would be alive today. Likewise, over 75,000 maimed and injured in fires last year would have been spared. Many members of the Los Angeles

Fire Department serve on local, State and Na- tional committees in the field for fire protection legislation.

In the field of physical fitness, we

have the most comprehensive program of any major fire department. In many types of athlet- ics our members are in national championship class. Our most recent honors were won in the Winter Olympics at Snow Valley. Among you tonight are many of these

highly trained, dedicated, professional firemen and their wives. They are a part of the force of over 3,000 who guard your lives and property every day and every night of the year. As the Chief of your Fire Department, I humbly accept the great privilege of commending them to you as members of this Class One Fire Department and as citizens of your communities--dedicated to the saving of lives and property. No commendation would be com-

plete or just without mention of the wives of our firemen, who also have joined with us tonight in this celebration. As in all great professions, to them goes much of the honor for the accom- plishments of their men. It is they--who know the anxiety, the heartaches and sacrifices that so often go unnoticed. It is they--who know the need for courage and faith when roaring flames engulf our mountains, or great structures, or when a fireman must go through literal hell to save a life from fire. At my invitation tonight, a fireman’s

Grapevine cover, march 1962. pilot BuD nelson prepares to take chieF enGineer william miller For a riDe in the new Bell helicopter.

50 • May 2012

wife has come from her husband’s bedside in Central Receiving Hospital. With 70 percent of his body severely burned when trapped in a fire, on the night of January 17, Fireman Tom Morse has since hovered between life and death. Medical science and the Central Receiving Hospital are doing everything pos- sible to heal his injuries and to relieve his pain. His wife and three little daughters--and 3,000 firemen and their wives--are hoping, praying and waiting for the day that Tom and Daddy is

able to come home. [Note: Unfortunately Fire- man Thomas O. Morse, Truck Co. 26B, died of his injuries on March 11, 1961 just days after Chief Millers speech] To the wives of firemen here--and to

the wives of those on duty throughout the city tonight, and the nights to come--I extend the humble gratitude of your men. Also in our gathering tonight are

many retired men from our Department, who have given the cream of their lives for the safety of our citizens. To you, retired men--I extend our thanks for establishing a sound foundation and a firm base from which we could progress. Without your fine examples and your dedica- tion to duty, the Los Angeles Fire Department would not enjoy the fine reputation that it does. The challenges of the future are

great. We have faith that our citizens will con- tinue to support an adequate fire fighting force- -which must grow--as the city grows. We ac- cept the challenges of the age of electronics, nuclear power, space engines and automation. We stand firm in our resolution to insure that progress, with effective protection. Nor shall we, in the face of all that is material, ever for- get that our dedication to the saving of human life is the first and foremost of our duties. To Your Honor, Mayor Poulson,

Members of the City Council and Fire Com- mission--my thanks for your great assistance in our daily work. To my contemporaries in other City Department’s gratitude for your confi- dence and continued support. To all--we pledge a progressive Fire

Department, trained and qualified to meet the challenges in the years ahead.


From L.A. Times “William L. Miller, retired Chief

Engineer, Los Angeles City Fire Department, died June 4, 1989 in Lake Elsinore, CA. Immediate cremation.”

“Los Angeles and its fire problems

were dramatically different in 1956 from those that William L. Miller found when he moved to Los Angeles in 1928 from Iowa. Born January 31, 1906 in Morrison, Iowa, he arrived in the city shortly before the Wall Street stock mar- ket crash. His Cedar Rapids Business College training at first led him into administrative jobs, including district manager of circulation for the Los Angeles Examiner.” Bill Miller joined the Los Angeles

Fire Department during the depression, June 1, 1933 and was first assigned to Engine 63 in Venice. Career promotions followed in order. Captain- 1940 -Engine 40; Battalion Chief- 1948 -Battalion 9; Assistant Chief (Fire Mar- shall)-1954 -Fire Prevention Bureau; Chief Engineer & General Manager 1956-1965.

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