History of the Manhattan Beach Fire Department

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"Manhattan Beach Fire Department was born through the efforts of volunteers who saw a need to protect the citizens of Manhattan Beach and their property."

 History Figrefighter with bull horn  History Figrefighter team
1920s - 1940s   1950s - 1960s
 Firefighter using exstinguisher  big fire 2
 1970s - 1990s  2000s - Present

 

 

It was in 1912 that Manhattan Beach, a small town with a population of a few hundred people during the winter months and well over 2,000 during the summer, became incorporated. Homes were built along the beach, and large lot sizes created natural fire breaks protecting neighboring homes if a fire occurred. Fires did occur, occasionally, and when they did, W.W. Peppers and E.C. Patmore, owners of Manhattan Hardware would sound the alarm, load hose into their Model T open bed truck and charge off to the fire. When they arrived, anyone in the area was expected to help in the firefighting effort. Manhattan Hardware was located on Manhattan Avenue near Center Street, and was the place to go for most problems. They responded to drownings, fires, and even chased down runaway horses.

In 1919, the city purchased a hose reel specifically designed for fire fighting. This, of course, was stored at the hardware store. Even in those days, fire fighting efforts would be shared by our neighbor to the south, Hermosa Beach, and Los Angeles County Fire. This is a tradition that has extended through the years since. We now refer to this as “Automatic Aid” or “Mutual Aid”. It was also during this time period, prior to World War I, that a water main was installed by the city, with strategically placed hydrants. While this newly updated water supply system proved to be a significant improvement to firefighting efforts, fire fighting apparatus was still lacking in efficiency and reliability. This was a problem that would plague firefighters for many years, but it also represented an opportunity for improvement that would motivate truck manufacturers and fire officials well into the future.