On the morning of April 16th, 1913, Fire Station 29 opened its doors for business for the very first time. Fire Station 29 was located in what was considered the “rural area” on the outskirts of Los Angeles on Western Avenue between 1st and 2nd. Fire Station 29 housed Engine Company 29 and Truck Company 4.
100 years later to the very day, New Fire Station 29 marked the 100th anniversary of service to the communities of Korea Town, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire area by hosting a pancake breakfast for alumni and friends of 29’s. Following the breakfast, a flag raising ceremony utilizing the original flagpole from Old 29’s honored 100 years of dedicated service.
The pancake breakfast was attended by dignitaries of the City Council, the LAFD, and of the community. Councilman Tom LaBonge was in attendance as were all members of the Fire Commission, Fire Chief Brian Cummings, Division and Battalion Chiefs, and many of the local consulates that are located in Fire Station 29’s district. No celebration of 29’s would be complete without a visit by retired Captain I Bill Finn who provided a detailed history of Old and New 29’s. Many retired members and alumni of Fire Station 29 stopped by to say “hello” and tell stories of the “old house.” Alumni included the likes of former Chief Engineer Bill Bammatre and his wife Liz, retired Battalion Chief “Iron Mike” Ambarian, retired Captain Rick McLaren, retired Captain II Addison Birdine, and many others too numerous to mention.
The celebration culminated with the dedication of a flagpole monument created for the occasion by the members currently assigned to Fire Station 29. Shortly after its closure in 1991, Old 29’s was sold by the City for private use. Earlier this year the current owner was contacted and he agreed to generously donate the iconic flagpole and bracing system that was mounted to the roof of Old 29’s. The century old wooden flagpole hadn’t flown our country’s colors since the closing of Old 29’s in January of 1991 and it was in desperate need of repair. The flagpole was acquired and painstakingly restored to its original glory. The bracing system was sandblasted and given a new coat of paint and the “truck” on top of the pole was stripped of many layers of paint revealing that it was actually made from brass.
Not being satisfied with simply placing the flagpole in the ground, the members of New 29’s took used brick and utilized the original cornerstone from Old 29’s to form a base for the monument. The base is meant to replicate the many pre-33 center-hall apartment houses found in Battalion 11; right down to the king’s row, inset window (the cornerstone), and even replica tie-plates. To further honor the monument, some talented members created a fountain from an old hydrant that had been used for training purposes. The monument and fountain are located just outside the kitchen of New 29’s. If you are moved-up or working at New 29’s, be sure and check it out!
An American Flag was gifted to New 29’s by the “Daughters of the American Revolution” to be flown from the newly restored flagpole. Like the flag that flew on the opening day of Old 29’s, this flag has 48 stars instead of 50 (there were only 48 states in 1913). Below the 48-star American Flag is a smaller flag that was created to honor the dates of the 100-year anniversary of service.
Upon seeing the new location for the restored flagpole, Councilman LaBonge immediately dedicated the monument and declared its installation “sound and proper.”
An event like this requires teamwork and there is not enough space to thank all involved. A special thanks goes out to Marc & Lynn Cohen, Mike Genewick, and all of the members of “Friends of 29’s” for their generous support. “Thank you” as well to the “International House of Pancakes” and “The Coffee Bean” for their generous donations towards the breakfast, and of course the “Daughters of the American Revolution” for the donation of the 48-star American Flag.
The officers of FS29 would also like to add just how proud they are of the hard work and dedication displayed by the members assigned to the “A”, “B”, and “C” Platoons of Fire Station 29. It was a monumental effort to pull off this event and to complete the memorial flagpole in the amount of time that you did. Your efforts have honored the brave men and women of the LAFD who have served this Fire Station and this Community: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the last 100 years.
By Mark Curry, Capt. II, FS 29