Fire Chief Daryl Osby (left) and Forestry Division Chief John Todd at the Forestry Centennial Gala Dinner on May 14, 2011. (Photo by Kathy St. Amant)
On May 14, the Forestry Division officially kicked-off its year-long celebration of 100 years of service to the residents of Los Angeles County with a gala dinner at the Sheraton Suites Fairplex in Pomona. A festive mixture of Foresters spanning the generations gathered that evening, from familiar retirees to fresh-faced Forestry Assistants, to honor Forestry's rich history of wildland fire protection and conservation of natural resources. Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Chief Deputy John Tripp, Acting Chief Deputy David Richardson and Deputy Chief Scott Poster were among the crowd of attendees viewing historical displays and sharing stories in the banquet hall gaily decorated with plants and trees grown at Henninger Flats. The dinner began with many thanks given to all those who helped coordinate the event by Forestry Division Chief John Todd, as well as a stirring speech from Osby, who credited Forestry for many innovations our Department still uses today. "My title is Fire Chief but officially it's Forester and Fire Warden, and that comes with a lot of historical perspective and meaning. The Foresters were here first and they are really the pioneers of development of the first fire protection district in this region," said Osby. "Foresters implemented firebreaks, the first two-way radios, utilization of helicopters, brush clearance and the design of safe communities. Those best practices have been replicated throughout the nation and other parts of the world. I would like to humbly thank the Forestry Division and its previous chiefs for their leadership and evolution of the beginnings of the fire protection districts, and whose contributions got us to where we are today," he said. Osby's speech was followed with a slideshow of photos spanning the past 100 years narrated by Assistant Chief of Forestry Mike Takeshita and Deputy Forester J. Lopez, as well as a lively and rousing presentation by Char Miller, Director of Environmental Analysis and W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College.
The next day Forestry concluded their Centennial kick-off celebration with a delicious barbeque picnic held on the infield of the Pomona Fairplex Racetrack. LACoFD members from Forestry and other divisions, along with their families, enjoyed the day of good-old fashioned family fun. Entertaining activities were enjoyed by all including tug of war, a whipped cream pie eating contest, the "Muscle Man" competition which involved "building" muscles by stuffing as many balloons as possible under the shirt of the team captain and much more. The highlight of day came when the top raffle prize of custom made wildland boots donated by Haix Boot Store was awarded to Randi Fleisher, a little girl under 10 years old, who had lost her ticket early on, but managed to remember her number and inform the deejay just in case she won. Congratulations, Randi! The Sunday celebration of this historic event left everyone with smiles on their faces and great memories to last a lifetime! - Rasy Moqeet also contributed to this story.