The LAFD Historical Society has taken on some major projects with a minimal amount of funding and volunteers and has still made great accomplishments in keeping with our mission to preserve, educate and memorialize. Operating two museums, collecting and displaying hundreds of artifacts, refurbishing fire apparatus, and nearing 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 attitude, 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 volunteers has been steadily working on the boat for several years with minimal funding and volunteer support. We have had an ongoing fund raising campaign since the boat came out of the water in 2004, and in the last two years have only 43 generous people donating at the $100 level or above. The estimated cost to professionally rehabilitate the boat is $500, 000. We have almost 20% of that in the boat fund now and a long way to go as we continue to make needed purchases.
The preservation project is a partnership with the LAFD as the owner of the boat, the Historical Society as the preservationists, and the Port of Los Angeles that has provided continuous support and will provide a multi-million dollar museum structure for the boat scheduled for completion in the next few years.
Imagine not being able to see this historic fireboat that created such a rich history. Or not having a place that shares the stories of more than 77 years of service. For the past 10 years, preserving the legacy of the boat has been our mission. Now we need the help of all LAFD members, active and retired, and friends of the old fireboat who want to preserve it for generations to learn and enjoy what it was in its place in history. We need skilled volunteers to help us continue to work on the boat, getting it ready for its move into its own museum. We need donations to support the restoration project – our volunteers work for free, but use the equipment, tools and supplies needed to bring the boat back to what it looked like when it was in service. Remember – it had been sitting outside of the boathouse for 10 years until this September when the Port of LA provided an awesome shelter to protect it from the elements until it is moved into its new home in San Pedro. We are most thankful to the Port for their continued support.
Why is LAFD Fireboat 2 – The Ralph J. Scott – Important?
1. The Ralph J. Scott is the longest serving piece of Los Angeles Fire Department apparatus 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 Service National Maritime Initiative as a National Historic Landmark.
6. The Ralph J. Scott is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
7. The Ralph J. Scott and crew served with honor, courage and distinction for over seven decades.
The LAFD Historical Society is referred to as stewards of the “Scott” by the National Park Service with regard to its National Historic Landmark Status. The Preservation Project for the Scott will require the finest engineering, craftsmanship and oversight to be successful.
Built in the San Pedro Harbor in 1925,the “Scott” is one of only a handful of remaining fireboats nationwide dating back to the early 20th century. Nearly as old as the Port of Los Angeles itself, the Scott is historically significant at local, state, and national levels, and the National Park Service lists it as a National Historic Landmark, the highest status conferred to a historic resource. In addition, the Scott is deeply valued at an emotional level by her former crewmembers, residents of San Pedro, and historic ship enthusiasts from around the world.
Because the Scott holds a level of importance rare for firefighting apparatus, planning for her future has been focused on how the vessel can best be preserved. Working under contract with the Los Angeles Harbor Department, a team of historians, and preservation and interpretive specialists from CH2M HILL and Jones and Stokes completed a historic preservation plan for the Scott in 2003.
The Ralph J. Scott Historic Preservation Plan provides an overall preservation framework as well as specific recommendations. The preservation plan includes:
• Historic context
• Stabilization plan
• Documentation plan
• Preservation approach
• Interpretive plan
• Work plan
The preservation of historic marine vessels provides unique challenges, due to their physical composition and the marine environment in which they are located. In order to preserve a vessel as a historic artifact, a plan needs to be developed for how the vessel will be preserved and maintained, as well as what will be done to facilitate public access. The selected preservation treatment will be the rehabilitation of the vessel for a new use as a museum piece and public interactive experience. The goal of the selected preservation treatment is to retain and preserve the historic form and fabric of the vessel to the greatest extent possible. We have a plan of work that we are following above and below deck, and we work on Fridays from 0800 to 1300 hrs. The work schedule will soon increase as we near completion date.
The Port of Los Angeles has provided great support to preserve the boat by developing a preservation plan that involves the vessel and the building that will house it. They have provided a land berth for it, utilities and a large canopy to cover it while work continues in a protected environment. Work has begun on the water cut back south of FS 112 and adjacent to where the boat museum will be. This will provide anchorage for historic vessels. The US Battleship Iowa came to the Port on June 9, 2012 and become a floating museum located just north of FS 112.
I hope that you have “caught my drift” with this article. We need support from our LAFD active and retired members and the general public in the way of volunteers to help work on the boat, and donors who will be recognized for their contribution in the new boat museum. Donor levels start at”Firefighter” $100 and go up from there to “Diver” $500; “Mate” $1,000; “Engineer” $2,000; “Pilot” $3,000; “Captain” $5,000; “Chief” $10,000. Of course any donation will help.
To donate you may send a check to our Society office located in the Hollywood Fire Museum, 1355 No. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028 – made to “LAFDHS” with a memo addition or note “Fireboat Project” or make contact through our website at lafdmuseum.org.
Submitted by Frank Borden, Director of Operations, LAFDHS