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LAFD Historical Society Submitted by Frank Borden • Director of Operations, LAFDHS Preserving old laFd Fireboat #2 – the “ralPh j. scott”


preServing old lafd fireBoaT #2 – The “ralph j. ScoTT” The LAFD Historical Society has taken


on some major projects with a minimal amount of funding and volunteers and have still made great accomplishments in keeping with our mission to preserve educate and memorialize. Operating two museums, collecting and displaying hundreds of items and many fire apparatus and of course near- ing completion of our LAFD Fallen Firefighter Memorial at a cost of $2.5 million has not been easy. This has been done through a can do atti- tude, perseverance, a vision for what can be done and the know how to do it. A past tradition on the LAFD.


Our Society has taken on another even


bigger project to preserve and prepare the “Ralph J. Scott” fireboat for placement in its own museum building in San Pedro. A small group of volun- teers have been steadily working on the boat for several years with minimal funding and volunteer support. We have had a fund raising campaign going on since the boat came out of the water in 2003 and in the last two years have only 20 gener- ous people donating at the $100 level or above. The estimated cost to rehabilitate the boat profes- sionally by a boat yard is $500, 000. We have 10% of that in the boat fund now and a long way to go. The preservation project is a partner-


ship with the LAFD as the owner of the boat, the Historical Society as the preservationists and the Port of Los Angeles that will provide a multi-mil- lion dollar museum structure for the boat sched- uled for completion in 2014/15. Why is LAFD Fireboat 2 – The Ralph


J. Scott - Important? 1. The Ralph J. Scott is the longest serv-


ing piece of Los Angeles Fire Department appara- tus at 78 years. 2. The Ralph J. Scott is a classic example of generation riveted wrought steel hull fireboats 3. The Ralph J. Scott has an outstanding


record of emergency and non-emergency service to the Port of Los Angeles. 4. The Ralph J. Scott is recognized as a


Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument. 5. The Ralph J. Scott is recognized by the


U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Ser- vice National Maritime Initiative as a National Historic Landmark. 6. The Ralph J. Scott is listed on the Na- tional register of Historic Places.


48 • June 2012 7. The Ralph J. Scott and crew served


with honor, courage and distinction for over seven decades.


The LAFD Historical Society is re-


ferred to as Stewards of the “Scott” by the Nation- al Park Service with regard to its National Historic Landmark Status. The Preservation Project for the Scott will require the finest engineering, crafts- manship and over-site to be successful.


“neW” l.a. fireBoaT #2 Construction of a new large fireboat for


Los Angeles began and on October 20, 1925, L.A. Fireboat Number 2 was launched at Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Dry dock (Later known as Todd Ship yard) in San Pedro at a cost of $214,000. Mrs. Scott christened the vessel “L.A. City No. 2” by breaking a bottle of fire-fighting foam across its bow. At 99 feet and a pumping capacity of 10,200 gallons per minute, Boat 2 was a beautifully en- gineered wrought steel, gasoline powered vessel. With 5 large turrets and up to a 6 inch nozzle tip, she had 6 pumps, 3 propellers, 9 engines and a 44 foot high elevating turret, the first of its kind in the nation. She had a top speed of 17 knots and a crew of 14 LAFD members. The large 8-inch moni- tor known as “Big Bertha” could throw a 6-inch stream of water hundreds of feet with devastat- ing force. In spring of 1926, finishing touches were completed on a magnificent wooden boat house and fire station to accommodate the new seagoing super-pumper. Located at Berth 226-227 on Terminal Island, it oc- cupied a strategic position near the geographical center of the harbor. Boat 2 was there for the transition from wooden sailing ships to steel hulled power vessels.


modernizaTion of BoaT 2 Many modifications


were made on Boat 2 during its over 77 years of continuous service to the City so that it would retain a maximum capability in fire fighting and rescue operations. The gasoline engines originally installed were replaced by Hall-Scott gasoline engines in the mid 1940’s. In the mid 1970’s all the gasoline engines


were replaced with diesel engines. After each en- gine change the pumping capacity of the boat in- creased to 13,500 gallons per minute to a capacity of 18,655 GPM at 150 psi. It is interesting to note that the six Byron Jackson bronze 4 stage centrifu- gal pumps were never changed and still worked as efficiently as they did 77 years ago. Now the “Big Bertha” monitor can produce 10,000 GPM at nearly 500 feet. Major upgrade improvements were


made to the boat in 1969 thanks to plans from fire- boat Captain Warner L. Lawrence. Improvements included: a modernized pilot station and engine room (the boat’s steering wheel was replaced with lever steering controls at this time), new hydrau- lic stainless steel monitors, six bulwark nozzles, under water maneuvering jets, large capacity under-wharf monitors, and a hydraulic lift boom and winches. This modernization and increased effectiveness resulted in the reduction of staffing from 14 crew members to 8. Special equipment and personnel were added to the boat’s capabil- ity including certified LAFD SCUBA divers for under wharf fire fighting and water rescue opera- tions.


in 1925 la fireBoaT numBer 2 WaS nearing compleTion aT loS angeleS ShipBuilding BoaT yard in San pedro.


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