One hundred years to the day after the first Engine Co. 28 went into service, Fire Station 28 celebrated its centennial anniversary this July 15, 2013. Today’s building was constructed in 1994, but its birth date is actually 1913. The original station was located on 644 S. Figueroa Ave. and it opened for service on Monday, July 15, 1913.
“Fire Station 28 was constructed to house two companies,” according to a history compiled by one of 28’s current officers Captain Raul Miranda. “Also incorporated in the plans was a third floor, which was to provide needed space for a proposed modernized fire alarm bureau. During the 56 years the firehouse was in use the third floor provided quarters for the Arson and Photo Units, the Relief Association and the Credit Union. Among other uses, the basement served as a practice hall for the Fire Department Band in later years.”
Construction was completed early in 1913, but the station was not occupied until after the start of the 1913-1914 fiscal year, according to Miranda. At the time, it was a state-of-the-art building that housed modern, cutting-edge motorized fire engines. Horse-drawn apparatus was still in service at many fire stations in the city until 1921.
According to the captain’s research, “At 6:00 p.m. on July 15, 1913, Captain McDowell and eleven men put LAFD Engine 28 into service. Their equipment consisted of a six-cylinder Seagrave Hose Wagon and a Gorham Pumper.” Engine Co. No. 28 answered its first emergency call on July 23, 1913, and would respond to many such calls over the next five decades.
The station’s active service ended in 1969, and the building fell into disrepair over the coming years. In 1983, a 5-year preservation effort transformed the Engine Company 28 firehouse into its current blend of historic architecture and contemporary design. The building still stands today, and it is now home to a restaurant named Engine Co. No. 28 (opened in 1988), a theatre organization, and two law firms.
Engine Co. No. 28 restaurant retains much of the original interior and exterior architectural elements of the former firehouse including the iconic pole. Decorations on the walls include vintage photos of firefighters and firehouse-themed artwork.
“It looks very much like the fire station that it was,” said Miranda. “It is a very nice restaurant downtown.”
A new beginning
Twenty-five years after the closing of the downtown fire station, the new Station 28 was completed in Porter Ranch, at 11641 Corbin Ave. Fire Station 28 was opened in 1994, and although there were no fire engines or trucks assigned to the station, it did house Battalion Chief 15. Over the years the station was vacant at times and had several storage uses.
In 2000, the new station was staffed with Light Force 28. RA 828 would also later be assigned there, along with un-staffed Brush Patrol 28. On July 3, 2011, staffing and apparatus would again be re-configured to its current staffing with a paramedic engine and EMT ambulance.
On July 15 this year, the Porter Ranch community came together to observe Station 28’s 100th anniversary. We thought it was important to recognize that date,” Miranda said. “It was a great event.”
The celebration in Porter Ranch included a pancake breakfast at the fire station with donations to benefit the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund. Commemorative activities included a flag raising and salute. Vintage photos were on display and a large anniversary sheet cake included a vintage fire station photo. The LAFD Band Wagon was on display thanks to retired Firefighter Phil Wiereter. The original Fire Station 28 “Journal” from opening day 1913 was also on display. Attendees included active and retired 28’s personnel, along with Fire Commissioner Steven Fazio.
Local businesses donated raffle prizes. Event supporters included Walmart, Starbucks, Engine Co. No. 28 Restaurant, Shepherd of the Hills Church, Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society, David Blaire Photography, Gothic Landscape, Oak Springs Nursery, and the office of District 12 Councilman Mitchell Englander.
“It is a great community,” said Captain Miranda, who is retiring next year after more than 33 years of service. “There is a strong community involvement here with the local church and with the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council.”
“The community is growing,” he continued, pointing out the new Porter Ranch Community School and new housing. “It is a very well kept and safe community that I really enjoy serving. It is a wonderful opportunity to finish my career here.”
By Raul Miranda, FS 28