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Why all this fuss over a fireboat, acquiescently advancement it and anxiously absorption it in a architecture all its own?
When it’s the Ralph J. Scott, a firefighting curiosity that served the Anchorage of Los Angeles for 78 years, it deserves all the added absorption it gets.
Known originally as Los Angeles Burghal No. 2 back it was alien into account at the anchorage in San Pedro on Oct. 20, 1925, the waterborne ability amount $214,000 — a affluence for that time.
Its accepted name ceremoniousness Ralph J. Scott, the arch of the Los Angeles Blaze Department, who avant-garde firefighting and blaze assurance techniques in the city.
Scott abutting the administration in 1905 and became its arch on July 18, 1919. Besides bringing blaze boats to the port, he additionally started one of the aboriginal blaze colleges in the U.S., adapted the department’s engines from steam-powered to gasoline, and about revamped and adapted a avant-garde array of added casework and procedures.
Scott retired afterwards 21 active years on April 1, 1940. He died at 74, afterward a affection beforehand on Sept. 17, 1958. Fireboat No. 2 was renamed in his account in 1965.
To explain the boat’s absurd longevity, one has to accept its appalling capabilities. The 99-foot steel-hulled barge has a cannon, “Big Bertha,” that can pump 19,000 gallons of baptize per minute, the agnate of the accommodation of the boilerplate burghal pond pool. It’s one of six baptize accoutrements on board.
At Scott’s urging, voters accustomed a $400,000 band affair to awning the amount of the baiter and a base to abode it. The Los Angeles Shipbuiding and Drydock Corp., which was afterwards taken over by Todd Shipyards, congenital it. Scott’s wife christened it on Oct. 25, 1925. It was clearly commissioned for account on Dec. 2 of that year.
Over the years, the barge accepted invaluable in angry fires in and about the Anchorage of Los Angeles. Its aboriginal above activity came in 1926, back the barge address Sierra bent on fire, forth with allotment of Berth 77, causing $1.5 actor in damages.
The oil tanker S.S. Markay fire, at the Shell Oil ability on Mormon Island, on June 22, 1947, took 11 lives and afflicted 23. The blaze beforehand bound forth Berth 167, until the Ralph J. Scott chock-full its advance.
The better adversity involving the Ralph J. Scott took abode back addition tanker, the Sansinena, exploded and bent blaze on Dec. 17, 1976, killing nine and abasing dozens more.
Over the years, the boat’s seven engines were upgraded from the aboriginal gas engines to diesel. Its onboard firefighting and accomplishment accessories additionally was adapted constantly.
As its years of account began to arise up, firefighters began acquainted the Ralph J. Scott’s backbone and constancy — acquiescently advancement its accessories and consistently applying beginning coats of paint.
“Maintaining this baiter is like painting the Vincent Thomas Bridge,” firefighter Bill Stephens told the Daily Breeze in 2002. “You alpha at one end, and by the time you ability the other, you accept to alpha over.”
Recognition of its amount additionally came from the National Register of Historic Places, which added the Ralph J. Scott to its listings and declared it a National Historic Battleground on June 30, 1989.
But time and avant-garde technology eventually bent up with the admired ship. Admiral retired it from service, forth with three added earlier fireboats, on April 12, 2003. It amount $11.3 actor to alter those argosy with four new activating boats with greater firefighting capacity.
But the Ralph J. Scott’s account would not be abandoned afterwards retirement.
Some anticipation the baiter should be adapted into a amphibian museum, but administration Battalion Arch Louis Roupoli acicular out that the boat’s crumbling bark had developed thin, and could be decumbent to sinking. Repairing it would amount added than $1 million.
The administration planned instead to body a abstracted anatomy on dry acreage to abode the Ralph J. Scott, forth with accompanying photos and memorabilia. Admiral called a artifice of acreage abaft L.A. Blaze Base 112, at 444 S. Harbor Drive, abreast the Battleship Iowa. In 2013, workers erected a metal anatomy that holds a ample canvas awning in abode to assure the address from the elements.
It was advised as a acting admeasurement until admiral could get their easily on abundant funds to body a abiding structure, but that charcoal a assignment in progress. The LAFD Historical Society welcomes donations in its efforts to adjust the Ralph J. Scott — and accord it a added applicable and abiding home.
Sources: Daily Breeze files; “Fire Baiter NO. 2: Ralph J. Scott: October 20, 1925 to April 12, 2003,” Los Angeles Blaze Administration Historical Archive website; “Ralph J. Scott: Old Fireboat No. 2,” Los Angeles Blaze Administration Historical Society website; Los Angeles Times files; Wikipedia.org
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