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Pasadena Fire Department Celebrates 125-Year of Service with Parade Entry

Published on Thursday, December 26, 2013 | 12:04 pm

In celebration and reflection of the Department’s 125 years of service to the community, the Pasadena Fire Department will be featured in the 125th Anniversary of the Tournament of Roses Parade with the Mayor’s Entry.

The Mayor and his family will ride atop a 1952 Seagrave driven by third generation Pasadena Firefighter, Mike Maas. Mike is currently a Battalion Chief assigned to the Training Division. The Maas family has a combined 92 years of service with the Pasadena Fire Department. The 1952 Seagrave served in the City of South Gate from 1952-1975 before it was sold to a private party in 1975.
It features a five-speed manual transmission, 1,000 gallons per minute “waterous pump,” vacuum assist hydraulic brakes and the loudest non-electric siren made.

The 1952 Seagrave will also be accompanied by the Pasadena Fire Department’s 1909 Seagrave, housed in the museum at Fire Station 31 on South Fair Oaks Avenue. It is the oldest running piece of fire equipment west of the Mississippi. Featured on this entry will be 97-year old Engineer Jason Fields, the oldest retired Pasadena Firefighter. It will be driven by retired Pasadena Fire Engineer, Ken Woolsey.

The third entry will be a Los Angeles County Fire Steamer, a replica of the Pasadena Fire Department’s first Steamer that donned the Parade route in the late 1890’s. It is on loan from the Los Angeles County Firefighter’s Museum.

Under the direction of Deputy Chief Kevin Costa, a four-member Float committee dedicated countless hours in researching, acquiring and selecting the entries to showcase the Department in celebrating 125 years of service.

The decorations for the entries will take place beginning Saturday, December 28th in Lot I at the Rose Bowl.

As Pasadena grew, the need for fire protection grew as well. A little-known event that triggered the formation of a fire department occurred in 1885 when some boys threw a stone into a building, at the corner of Fair Oaks and Mills Alley that was being used by Chinese immigrants as a laundry. The stone tipped over a kerosene lamp, starting a fire that burned down the building. The building’s
owner, Johnny Mills, fought feverishly to stop the fire’s growth and prevented it from spreading. Perhaps considering the great Chicago fire of 14 years earlier, allegedly also started by a kerosene lamp (and Mrs. O’Leary’s cow), the City, with some urging by a Dr. H.A. Reid (later a noted local historian), realized that a Fire Department was needed.

On October 8, 1887, after a delay to raise money, the City Trustees passed a resolution authorizing a Fire Department and the office of “Chief” was created. They allocated just over $1,000 to start the Fire Department. The first Fire Department was simple, at best. The City’s Blacksmith Shop built the first two pieces of fire apparatus, a hook and ladder rig and a hose cart. These were put into service on May 1, 1888 and ran out of a temporary station on DeLacey, near the Wiley and Greeley’s Livery Stable, which provided the horses for 24 men who were selected to be the Fire Department, with 12 men assigned to each piece of apparatus.

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