July 2017

June 30, 2017

Dear Editor:

The article submitted by Frank Borden in the February issue of the Grapevine about the dam breaks was great. I commend him on his accuracy.

The rescues at the Baldwin Hills dam collapse would be considered crude by today’s standards but the bravery of the pilots was huge by any standard. Of those LAFD pilots, only Howard Payne survives. He was known as a masterful helicopter pilot. Following his fire department service, Ross Reynolds went on to a successful career as a movie helicopter pilot. For his actions in the Baldwin hills Dam disaster, Bud Nelson was awarded the Helicopter Pilot of the Year for the whole world by the Helicopter Association International. He was the founding pilot of LAFD Air Operations.

In the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, I was a helicopter pilot and first on the scene at the Van Norman dam. I reported that the dam was damaged but seemed to be holding. I was off doing rescues

Pat is a Wright Brothers master pilot having no accidents or violations for 50 years. He invites all firefighters and friends to visit him at Hangar 8, Stearman Taxiway at the historic Santa Paula Airport.

and other things and when I returned, the dam was in danger of collapsing. Thank goodness that someone on the ground had reported the situation. That still bothers me to this day.

The receding flood waters from the St Francis dam collapse of 1928 left a large field next to Santa Paula. This is where the local airport was placed in 1930. This became my hangout when I retired and has remained so for the last 23 years.

Pat Quinn, LAFD Air Operations, (retired)


Relief Association,

My name is Scott Hamilton from FS 98-B. I was honored to receive “Firefighter of the Year” from the American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood. I was at 27’s for 13+ years and just recently transferred to 98’s.

Enclosed is the check the Post gave to me in the name of my requested charity, The Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund. Thank you for all you do for the membership.


Scott Hamilton, FS 98-B


Relief Association:

To the Board of Trustees, Officers and members of the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association, thank you for the beautiful flag, picture of the fire station where he worked and the flower arrangement. Walter [Matthews] loved working at the fire department and we loved to hear some of his experiences while working. A special thanks to James Dolan for his much needed phone call.


Dorthe Matthews & family
Longview, TX


Dear James,

I thank you for the support. I write this the morning of Wendell’s memorial. I thank you again because I am truly facing the most difficult day of my life.

Wendell was such a good man with a loving heart. Pleas thank the fire station for flying the flag and everyone at the Relief Association.

Marsha Simms
Proud firefighter wife
North Las Vegas, NV



I had the good fortune of working for Larry Schneider at Fire Station 66, 33 and 9’s. We also worked as reliefs in Battalion 18.

The years that I worked for Larry were the most enjoyable that I had on the job. He was a very special man of great character and dedication to the fire service.

I feel privileged to have known Larry Schneider and treasured his friendship.

Ken Gunderman
Lake Arrowhead, CA


Dear Andy:

Please accept this donation in the name of my good friend Larry Schneider who I met in 1958 at Engine 17. He was a great firefighter and a lot of fun off and on the job. After we went three platoon and Larry made captain, we kept in touch.

When he was B/C at 27’s he contacted me in Fire Prevention and wanted to tour the motion picture and television studios in his district. He was interested in hazardous areas, how to open stage doors, how the sprinkler systems worked, etc. This was very time consuming. Only once before was I ever approached by an interested chief officer in 17 years.

I recommended Larry to be the technical advisor and safety officer for the movie “Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.” His knowledge of the fire and horse drawn fire equipment was greatly appreciated by the director.

You will be missed old buddy.

Harry Morck



When I made A/O back in 1981, I was assigned to FS 16 (yes, they had a truck back then) and Jay [Ellington] was one of the firefighters. What a turd stirrer he was. My first shift Jay had thrown a few red nuts and bolts under the truck and when I was going over my “new ride” I was quite nervous to find these parts. Needless to say, he continued with the ruse well into the morning, keeping me on edge.

Jay was ornery, cantankerous and always stirring something up. But he was a good firefighter. I’m glad he enjoyed many years on pension.

Craig Evans
Temecula, CA



I worked with Ron [Dorn] on many occasions and we were both assigned to FS 73 in Reseda for a couple of years. Ron was a dedicated hard worker and he had a big heart. He was a fun guy to have a beer with when I would see him up in Ventura where he lived. Rest in peace Ron!! You will be missed by many of us.

Vance Boos



I am just learning of Alicia’s [Mathis] passing this second. My heart is broken. I met Alicia at City Hall, in 1994, when we were both pregnant with our sons. Micah was born just a couple of weeks after my son, Austin. I am truly shocked and saddened to read that Alicia has passed away. Prayers for her family.

Rosemary Nord



I had the pleasure of working with John [Haver] at FS 8-C when it became a paramedic engine company. John was a highly competent and skilled engineer. He was also a great source of fun and laughter. Off-duty, he was equally skilled as a bass fisherman. He will always have a place in my LAFD memory bank.

R.I.P. “Mr. Wheat”.

Vince Marzo

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