On June 2, a living piece of our Department's history was officially dedicated to the public – Old Fire Station 30 in the City of Artesia. This once fully-functional fire station has been restored and renovated as closely as possible to its original state to now serve as an educational museum for local schoolchildren and residents, as well as a means of preserving both the City's and Department's rich histories. Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Supervisor Don Knabe, and LACoFD firefighters assigned to Fire Station 30 both past and present joined City officials and residents in celebrating this renewed community treasure. Among the attendees were the sons of firefighters Joe Harkema, Sr., and Hogan Wilford and Fred Earl, former crewmembers at Old Fire Station 30 during its heyday who were instrumental in providing the Artesia Historical Society (AHS) with the details about what the station was like during their assignments there.
Fire Station 30 was originally built in 1937 in the City of Downey, but was moved to Artesia in 1950. Our Department provided fire protection and emergency medical services from the one-story station until a larger replacement station was built in 1985 to meet the needs of the City that had grown exponentially in the 35 years following its relocation. In 2005, the City purchased the building with the intent of turning it into a museum. With a gracious donation by Knabe, and the input of Harkema, Hogan and Wilford, the AHS was able to refurbish the station and preserve its character. "All three gentlemen were able to tell the project manager about the original condition of the fire station, down to the color of the walls," says Fire Captain and County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Vice President Joe Woyjeck. "They have all since passed, but they gave important information on what was accurate and what wasn't in the restoration of the station."
Completing the "look" of the station is a 1941 fire truck on long-term loan from the County Fire Museum to the AHS. "Joe Harkema, Sr., showed us a photo of a 1942 fire truck that was used at the station," says Woyjeck. "It turned out we had a 1941 truck almost identical to the one in the photo. We decided to recreate it into a period-correct Fire Engine 30, including adding a gold leaf '30′ on the doors. This beautifully restored engine that can now be put on display at the old fire station."
During the dedication ceremony, Joe Harkema, Jr., Dick Wilford and Fred Earl all spoke about their fathers and their memories growing up in firefighter families. Both Joe, Jr., and Dick eventually became LACoFD firefighters as well and have since retired. As a special treat, Dick, who is now wheelchair-bound, was given a ride by Woyjeck on the 1955 Crown Convertible Fire Engine the Museum brought for the occasion.
The Artesia Historical Museum and Old Fire Station #30 are located at 18644 Alburtis, and are open every second Saturday of the month, from 1 to 3 p.m. Approximately 700 schoolchildren visit the attractions each year. To view photos of the restoration of the engine donated by the County of Los Angeles Fire Museum, visit their website