This morning, Martine and I trekked all the way to the southeastern City of Bellflower to visit the Los Angeles County Fire Museum. This is one of three firefighters’ museums in the L.A. area. (The others are the L.A. City Fire Museum on Cahuenga in Hollywood and the African-American Firefighters’ Museum on Central downtown.)
Martine brought along her 50th Anniversary Smokey Bear to show the museum staff. Smokey was a big hit to the retired firefighters who served as docents. Martine collects Smokey memorabilia, has a Smokey zipper pull on her jacket, and regularly receives a catalog from Woodland Enterprises in Moscow, Idaho of Smokey Bear goodies.
Many of the fire engines and other equipment on display were used in the television series Emergency! which aired on NBC from 1972 to 1979. That accounts for the Number 51 on many of the vehicles, as they belonged to fictional Squad 51 on the series.
The docents were all retired firefighters themselves who knew a great deal not only about the series, but how the firefighting equipment was used. Our guide was Javier Torres who patiently walked us through the exhibits.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department covers fires outside of Los Angeles City, especially the sparsely populated areas to the north of the county where most of the wildfires happen.
I have always admired firefighters, as it is one of the few careers which create heroes. When a visitor to the museum asked me if I was a retired fireman, I quickly answered, “No, I’m not quite good enough for the job.”