Stuart J. Flintham became the County’s first Fire Chief and remained so until his untimely death in 1925. During his tenure, the first Fire Protection Districts (30) were formed which allowed small towns in the unincorporated territory to pay for fire stations, engines and manpower. Chief Flintham’s successor, Spencer Turner, continued to build on the framework built by Flintham. By the time of his retirement in 1952, the Department had grown to have 80 fire stations and nearly 1,000 total personnel. During both the Chief’s tenure, fires in the brush-covered hills and desert areas continued to be fought by the Forestry Department exclusively using green engines and men having different uniforms, pay scales, retirement, Labor Unions, etc.
At all times, during the reigns of each Chief, a significant feature of the Department was its ability to develop new techniques and equipment to fight fires of all kinds; ultimately, these benefited the fire service in general and therefore all of the citizens of the United States. Some of these developments were:
Emergency incidents are too numerous to mention in this brief history. Suffice it to say that the wildland-urban interface fire is an L.A. County specialty. The major portion of the Department’s total effort is directed to preparing for and handling these often giant and complex projects. The balance of the Fire Chiefs since Chief Turner (Gehr, Klinger, Houts, Bragdon, Englund, and Freeman) have each been exposed to their fair share of such occurrences, and have made their indelible mark in the rich history of the County of Los Angeles Fire Department.