Old Fire Station 27 is 83 years old this year, and of course, is the location of our museum and memorial. It is the largest fire museum in a fire station in the country and is full of LAFD and fire service memorabilia.
This is a station rich in history and stories of the members who worked there. My earliest memory of the station is when my dad, Stan Borden, worked there as a captain in the mid 1950’s. Later when I was in Division 1, I would make sure I visited the station and the members there to watch handball, have mealsr, listen to the stories or sometimes on official business to meet with the B/C’s. Two great ones I worked with were Joe Webber and Jim O’Neil.
The old station was badly damaged by the Northridge earthquake in 1994, but with FEMA funds and LA City funds the building was reinforced, repaired and made beautiful again by a special group of City workers who do restoration work.
– Frank Borden
HISTORY OF FIRE STATION 27
by Willis M. Martin
This article appeared in the May, 1981 issue of THE FIREMEN’S GRAPEVINE.
As a result of the February, 1910 election, the residents of the City of Hollywood voted to be annexed to the City of Los Angeles. Prior to the annexation, all fire fighting had been performed by volunteer firemen who drove and operated horse-drawn fire equipment. Shortly after the annexation, the City established a firehouse known as Hose Company No. 7 at Cahuenga and Selma Avenues. Under the command of Chief Jack Atwell, the small station housed the first motorized piece of fire fighting apparatus in the City.
Of the many fires recorded during that period, one was journalized as follows: Saturday, January 7, 1911. Fire at 324 So. Wilcox. Outside closet and fence. Loss $50.00; cause: unknown. Extended to 318 S. Wilcox, one-story, frame barn. Loss $250.00. Extended to 100 Sunset Blvd., one story frame livery stable. Loss $50.00. Extended to 319 Townsend Ave., dry cleaning works. Loss $200 structure, $100 contents. Extended to 329 Townsend Ave., one-story frame barn. Loss $35.00 structure, $20.00 contents. Used 800 ft. of hose. Worked 2 hours, 50 minutes. Four call men received $3.00 each.
Another interesting journal entry appeared on February 20, 1911: While raining this a.m., the men tried to push Hose 4’s wagon into Hose 7’s house–in doing so they lost control of the pole. The rear wheels struck the corner of the house, knocking out three panes of glass. (Approximately a month later it was noted that Hose 7 received three panes of glass). The following day the company responded to a telephone alarm on Gower St., one block north of Franklin. They used 150 ft. of hose and worked 15 minutes to extinguish a brush fire! It seems that 27’s has always had a brush problem.
On Monday, November 20, 1911, a local resident, Mrs. T. A. Livingston, 559 Estelle Ave., was severely burned about the hands, face, and neck trying to save her chickens and rabbits from a fire involving her chicken corral and rabbit house. The fire was started by a fire in a barn at 562 Estelle Ave. Loss $5.00 structure and $20.00 contents. Laid 600 ft. of hose.
During Prohibition when the firemen and policemen were working from 1625-29 No. Cahuenga, several of the members of both Departments jointly rented a residence in Laurel Canyon. This fraternal lodging was appropriately named the “Boars Nest” by the members of both Departments.
Occasionally the Police Department would raid a speak-easy, confiscate the booze and bring it back to the station, holding it there for evidence. It should be pointed out that the P.D. only needed one bottle of the stuff for evidence and the major portion of the cache would mysteriously disappear. Of course none of the police or firemen could tell you whatever happened to the excess evidence. However, it was reported that on more than one occasion when the members of F.S. 27 could roll on a fire and see a loom up in the direction of Laurel Canyon, some of the members could be heard to exclaim “good God fellows, it’s the Boars Nest–let’s get going!”
In 1927 the City was given property located at Vine and Lexington. Chief Engineer R. J. Scott took the opportunity to recommend a new fire station be built at that location. However, the community leaders sounded a loud protest complaining they didn’t want a fire station on Vine Street. In fact, they went so far as to get a court injunction against the Fire Department to prohibit construction of a fire station there. Subsequently, the property at 6428 DeLongpre was acquired by degree of condemnation on October 24, 1929 for a total cost of $24,321. Three additional lots were purchased for a grand total of $52,415. On January 16, 1930, the Fire Commission requested the establishment of a fire station at Wilcox and DeLongpre.
Los Angeles City Architect P. K. Schabarum, uncle of County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, designed a two-story, brown, brick building, with natural wood trim, tile roof, and creative masonry work. The new building incorporated 18,227 square feet and for many years was the largest fire station west of the Mississippi River. The total expenditure to the City including land and construction was approximately $178,000.
On Tuesday, July 1, 1930, Engine Co. No. 27, Hose Co. No. 2, Truck Co. No. 9, Rescue Co. No. 2, and Salvage Co. No. 4 moved into the unfinished building. Although the building was not entirely completed at the time of occupancy, a substantial savings was made in the termination of rental fees on the old fire house. As testimony to the urgency of moving into the new building, on Saturday, June 28, 1930–“Captain Roth and 3 men (went) to the new house to spread cement on temporary paving. Rec’d. 10 sks cement from storeroom.” Apparently the original address of new Fire Station 27 was not 1355 Cahuenga Blvd. due to the fact that it was journalized as 1355 Cole Ave. by Battalion 5 in July of 1930.
Read the rest of the history on the June 2013 issue of the Grapevine.