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History of L.A. County Dept. of Forester & Firewarden, Soledad Division


Webmaster's note: The first comprehensive history of the Santa Clarita Valley was compiled in 1940 by Mary F. Brunner, the Newhall Branch Librarian, with assistance from Lois Goddard and Catherine Greening. They assembled a massive text in six volumes. For one of the volumes, they asked the various county and state agencies that served the SCV to write their own histories. The following description of the Soledad Division (north county) of the Los Angeles County Department of Forester and Firewarden — which hadn't yet become the Los Angeles County Fire Department as we know it — was written and submitted by one of its personnel (most likely the local assistant firewarden, but the individual is unidentified). The final version is typed. It is unknown whether the Forestry official submitted a typed or handwritten version that was subsequently typed by the editors, but the latter is likely.


Newhall, Calif.
Feb. 27, 1940

Name: Department of Forester & Firewarden

Address: County Agricultural Building, 524 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California

The Department is segregated into Divisions, and those engaged in fire control are known as the Field Divisions. There are five Field Divisions, each one operating as a complete unit. These are known as:

Los Angeles Division
Headquarters at Los Angeles Office

Malibu Division
Headquarters near Malibu Lake

San Jose Division
Headquarters at San Dimas

Arroyo Seco Division
Headquarters at La Canada

Soledad Division
Headquarters at 1453 San Fernando Road, Newhall, California
(Webmaster's note: This could be a typographical error. Photos show an address of 1457 San Fernando Road; for this reason an address of 1457 is preferred. The address was renumbered in the 1950s and renamed in 2008; in the 1950s this building was replaced with what's now Fire Station 73 on the north side of the property at 24875 Railroad Ave.)

The Soledad Office was first established July 1923, with two paid personnel. This was located at the old Ranger Station site on San Fernando Road at 4th St. The office was moved from this location to the small wooden building just south of the Chevrolet Agency on San Fernando Road; next it moved to the site of the present Sheriff’s Office, and in the winter of 1928, the present station was constructed.

Area Served:

The Soledad Division jurisdictional area consists of 1,014.07 square miles, the boundaries of which are roughly: the Santa Clara Divide on the south, Kern County on the north, Ventura County on the west and San Bernardino County on the east. Included within these boundaries, in addition to Soledad jurisdictional area, is 612.17 square miles of National Forest Land. A cooperative agreement is in effect with the Angeles National Forest and the Los Padres National Forest, whereby either agency may be called upon to assist the other in fire control, regardless of the location of the fire.

Type of Service:

Fire Control: The Soledad Division responded to 230 fires during 1939, consisting of the following types:

a — Watershed brush fires.

b — Structural fires.

c — Property fires such as hay, trucks, automobiles, etc.

Fire Prevention

a — Supervision of burning permits.

b — Inspection of cabins and cabin sites in brush covered areas.

c — Talks to schools, civic groups, etc.

Fish & Game

a — Fish& game patrol, checking hunting and fishing licenses, etc.

b — Trapping for predatory animals.

Forestry

a — Reforestation for erosion control and water supply.

b — Public distribution of reforestation stock.

Law Enforcement

a — Enforcing the Los Angeles County Fire Prevention Ord.

b — Enforcing State and Federal fish & game laws.

c — Enforcing State forestry laws.

Facilities & Equipment:

Soledad Headquarters

16 personnel consisting of:

1 Division Assistant in charge.

1 Senior Assistant.

2 Dispatchers.

2 Apparatus Engineers.

8 Forest Firemen.

2 Patrolmen.

Rolling Equipment:

1 600 gal. Mack pumper

1 600 gal. White pumper

1 150 gal. Combination pumper and squad truck

1 70 gal. patrol car

1 Motorcycle

Physical improvements:

In addition to Headquarters there are seven patrol stations and three lookout towers situated in the Soledad Division with a total personnel of 26 men and a total rolling equipment of 3 pumpers, 7 patrol cars and 1 motorcycle. All of this equipment can be concentrated at any point if necessary, and in addition, pumpers and men can be called from the other Field Divisions.

Telephone Lines:

The Department has its own telephone and teletype system connecting all stations with the Los Angeles Office and with each other. There are also lines to Ventura and Kern Counties and the Los Padres and Angeles National Forests. There are also numerous call boxes located in the watershed area that the patrolmen use and are also open to the public to report fires or other emergencies.

Motorways:

Many miles of motorways have been constructed by the Department with the cooperation of CCC Camps and Probation Camps, and practically all sections can now be reached with pumping equipment.

Water Tanks:

Water tanks have been placed at strategic points to service pumping equipment. There are approximately 60 such tanks in the Soledad Division.

Lookout Towers:

Los Angeles County has three towers, and the Angeles National Forest has seven towers that are used to spot fires during the fire season. These towers are all connected by telephone to Division Headquarters.

Miscellaneous

Weather records are kept at all stations, and at the present time the Department is working under a system known as the "Fire Danger Rating System." This system prognosticates dangerous fire weather and allows for the concentration of man power during such periods.

The Department, working in cooperation with the Probation Department, have [sic] established Juvenile Camps. Transient juveniles and local wayward boys are put to work constructing motorways, firebreaks and trails. The boys are paid for their work, and in this way the transient boys earn their fare home. One such camp is located in the Soledad Division near Chatsworth.

EARLY L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT, SCV

Agency Description 1940
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LACoFD-USFS 1923

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1928 Fire (Forestry) Station, Newhall

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1928 Fire (Forestry) Station, Newhall

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Pumper & 1928 Soledad Div. HQ, Newhall

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Asst. Chief's 1929 Buick, Newhall

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1933 Pumper, Newhall

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Asst. Warden's 1937 Chevy Carryall, Newhall

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Station 73 Dedication 7/1958

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Station 73 Newhall 1970s

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Station 73 Newhall 2008

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