At 0430, January 17, 1994, the San Fernando Valley was awakened by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake centered in Northridge, California.
I was assigned to RA100 and my partner that day was Cayce Culbertson. We were asleep in the RA quarters at the northeast corner of the building in what was originally the Division 3 quarters. Division 3 moved out about 1980 when FS88 opened.
When the building began to rock and roll, I knew what it was, having been through a few earthquakes in my life. I knew enough to stay in bed and ride it out.
Cayce decided to make a run for it. The room was pitch black and you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Cayce said something to the effect of “I’m getting out of here.”
The next sound I heard was a loud thump and a groan. That was Cayce hitting the floor, saying words you wouldn’t use in front of Mother Superior.
I asked him if he was OK and then there was another thump. I think that was enough for him and he stayed where he was until the shaking stopped.
By this time everyone was awake and trying to open the doors to get the apparatus out. Fortunately, they opened and we all went out into the side yard.
It was almost like being high in the mountains where it was so dark you can see millions of stars. You don’t get that view very often in the middle of the Valley.
The only sound was that of car alarms going off. That stopped in about a minute and then it was dead still. It was a little spooky.
The Honorable Steve Hofbauer, then at RA93, and currently the Mayor of Palmdale, was on a run on Reseda Blvd. He later told me that Reseda Blvd. looked like being at the beach and watching the waves roll in. The entire street was moving.
Over at FS 93 everyone got out safely and everything stopped shaking.
The day after the quake Don Majors was the pump engineer and there was a five-point-something quake. He was working on his rig when the shaking started and he noticed some brick and other debris falling from the wall. Don looked up and he could see the sky where the entire roof had shifted. That got everyone’s attention and they emptied the station.
It was shortly after that the building was declared unsafe.
Within a few days the apparatus floor was filled with men, large wooden beams, metal bracing, and assorted equipment to repair the building.
They installed ten 8”X10”X18’ vertical beams resting on a steel bracket and a concrete pad. The beams were bolted through the brackets. If my recollection is correct some of the vertical beams are two 4”X10”s bolted together.
There were also numerous supports and reinforcements bolted to the vertical beams and to the roof. They also installed bolts through the walls to hold it all together. The repairs took several weeks to complete. LF 93 went to FS72, E93 went to FS83 and RA93 went to FS84. It made the change of shift a little complicated but doable.
They were allowed to return to quarters during the day but they were not allowed to spend the night. Today, the beams and bracing are still very much in evidence and everyone sleeps well.
I would like to thank the crew at FS93 for allowing me access to the station to take a few photographs of the bracing.
They really need to do a better job of station security because they actually let me inside, not once, but twice.
There were a few guys who became legends on the LAFD for their marksmanship with a bucket of water.
One such person was, in real life, a very nice person. But once he had a bucket of water in his hands, he was a demon and an excellent shot. His buckets had no conscience.
Cleveland “The Black Cloud” Tipton could hit you with a bucket almost anywhere within 25-30 feet of the rear stairs and you quickly learned not to get too close to the stairs if you couldn’t see Cleveland.
He could give Annie Oakley shooting lessons. Because there always seemed to be a downpour wherever he was he earned the nickname “The Black Cloud.”
There was one more bucketing ace, John Chatman. John became infamous for bucketing Cindy Garvey, the wife of the Dodger’s first baseman, Steve Garvey.
She was a reporter at the time for, I think, KABC Channel 7. She was interviewing someone at FS35 in the side yard when she was hit with a bucket of water, completely drenching her.
It’s unclear if she was the intended target or whether John was really aiming for the person she was interviewing. It doesn’t make any difference because she got soaked.
THE FS 26 TILLERMAN SHOT
At 26s when the truck went out, they always came in the back door. The probably still do.
The middle door had a handle so you could open it manually if necessary.
The deal was to attach a bucket to the handle and run a piece of cord to the bucket and up to the balcony in such a manner that you could pull the cord and dump the bucket.
The goal was to nail the tillerman but in order to make the perfect shot the Auto Fireman had to be in on it. When he rolled into quarters, he had to make a perfect stop so the tiller bucket was directly under the water bucket. Remember in the 1970s and probably into the 1990s the tiller buckets were not enclosed.
There were a lot of moving parts to this turd but it worked well.