Fire Station 26 Then and Now

The Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) was established in 1886 and currently operates 100 + neighborhood fire stations that render fire and emergency services to nearly four million residents covering 400 square miles. Serving the West Adams area is Fire Station 26, which has been a part of the community since 1912 when L.A.’s total population was only around 550,000 residents.

The first Fire Station 26 was erected on a 7000 square foot site located at 2475 West Washington Blvd. (just east of Arlington) in 1911. George Alexander was the Mayor, the Chief Engineer was Archibald Ely, and the architect was J.J. Backus. The land and the two-story brick structure cost the city a total of $18,000. As was customary during that time, kitchen facilities were

housed in a separate building in the back of the station. High above the roofline was an ornate brick hose tower that was shortened, most likely, after the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake due to concerns that it could collapse in another shaker. The station was built with horse drawn apparatus in mind; however, the department was slowly switching to motorized apparatus and the horses were never assigned. Housed within the stations walls were the crews of Engine Company 26, Truck Company 8 (which became Truck 26 after 1932), along with quarters for Battalion 3. The station remained in service until 1971 when it was decommissioned as part of a facilities replacement program. The building remained abandoned until August 4, 1978 when it reopened as the George & Helen Thomas Senior Center. The building went through a complete redesign inside, but its exterior remains largely the same as it was when it was an active fire station.



The second Fire Station 26 is located at 2009 Western Avenue on a plot of land that faces one of L.A.’s busiest streets and is next to an on ramp that feeds traffic onto Interstate 10 West. The new building houses the crew of Task Force 26 consisting of Engine 26, Engine 226, and Truck 26. Also housed in the station are Rescue Ambulance 26 and Rescue Ambulance 826. The crew compliment is no less than 14 firefighters.  According to LAFD statistics, the station averaged 32 runs per day in its 15.3 square mile area, but that statistic is up for revision as Truck Company 26, previously immune from doing EMS assessment, now handles that duty. The rear lot of the station faces a residential street and gives the crew an option of pulling in through the rear bay doors. Getting out onto Western Avenue, however, can be hair raising especially at the height of rush hour with L.A.’s notoriously impatient and less-than-courteous drivers who consistently block the “Keep Clear” zone in front of the station.
The district 26 serves is mostly residential and includes historic West Adams area with its classic homes, but the crew has been dispatched to some of L.A.’s greatest conflagrations including the riots of 1965 & 1992, the Griffith Park Fire, and catastrophes as far out as Santa Barbara.                               
Chin Thammasaengsri is the writer/producer of the award winning series “Then & Now: The LAFD”.


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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