Fireboat No. 2
1925 – L.E. Caverly
444 South Harbor Boulevard, San Pedro – map
Firehouse No. 112
1926, demolished 1986
And now for something completely different – a boat, the first, but not the last, on the list of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments.
October 9, 1925
Commissioned on December 2, 1925, the fireboat originally known as L.A. City No. 2 was built at the Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation at a cost of $214,000. The L.A.S. & D.D. Corp., using a design by L.E. Caverly, constructed a 99-foot vessel, one of the country’s first triple-screw, gasoline-powered fireboats. The L.A. City No. 2 had a wrought steel hull (still does, I’d think), could reach speeds of 17 knots, held 2156 gallons of fuel, and boasted a pumping capacity of 10,200 GPM (later increased to 18,600).
March 23, 1941
Originally, seven 300 HP Winton marine engines powered the fireboat: one drove the center propeller; two handled the wing propellers and the after pumps; and the balance drove the four remaining pumps.
The L.A.S. & D.D. Corp. launched the fireboat at 10:15 a.m. on October 20, 1925. The boat was staffed with fourteen officers and crewmen.
L.A. City No. 2 and Firehouse No. 112
In 1926, the city built Firehouse No. 112 for the boat’s home base. It was located at Berth 227 on Terminal Island, near where the legs of the Vincent Thomas Bridge are today. "One of the few covered boathouses ever built for American fireboats", it was demolished on July 22, 1986, and replaced by a cargo container complex.
L.A. City No. 2 fought its first major fire on March 3, 1926, when the lumber schooner Sierra blazed away at the E.K. Wood Lumber wharf. It’s first major wharf fire was on December 28, 1926. That was at Berth 175.
On May 18, 1965, Fireboat No. 2 was renamed the Ralph J. Scott. Scott was the Chief Engineer of the L.A. City Fire Department from 1919 to 1940, and he oversaw the development of the fireboat. His wife had christened the boat forty years earlier.
In the late 1960s, the vessel was modernized and subsequently recommissioned on October 29, 1969. The remodeling resulted in lowering the crew number from fourteen to eight.
Fireboat No. 2 moved to Berth 85 in 1986 when the old, landmarked Firehouse No. 112 was razed.
The Ralph J. Scott was named a National Landmark in 1989 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On April 12, 2003, the Ralph J. Scott passed command to a brand new, 105-foot, Fireboat No. 2, “the world’s most powerful fireboat.”
The Ralph J. Scott and the Job O. Johnny
Today, the new Firehouse No. 112 sits at Berth 86. It was closed the Saturday afternoon I swung by, but there’s a bunch of old photos and information in cases outside, including many of the fireboat in action. It’s from where I got most of this information. Behind the new firehouse is where you can find the old Ralph J. Scott.
There are lots of pictures of the Ralph J. Scott on the web, like here, here, and the L.A. Fire Department Historical Society page here. A big help was this post from LAFire.com, it’s from where I plucked the black and white shots. Oh, and sorry, but Code 3 Collectible’s Ralph J. Scott model is sold out.
Up next: Memory Chapel, Calvary Presbyterian Church