1950s-1960s

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History First Fire Station 

It was in February, 1951, that a decision was made to building a fire station east of Sepulveda. Heavy rains had washed out large sections of Liberty Village, and although political and financial considerations slowed the progress of this development, Station Number Two was constructed in December, 1954 at a total cost of $36,000. The location was Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Rowell (1400 Manhattan Beach Boulevard). The station still stands at this location, and is currently manned by a single Paramedic Engine company, referred to as Engine 22, with three firefighter/paramedics that protect the east side of our city. This engine also provides the majority of our mutual and automatic aid. In addition, this engine participates in the many strike teams sent to fight the large forest fires we’ve all seen over the years. This station was dedicated to Rothwell Swain, our Chief at the time, in honor of his service and dedication to the department and citizens of Manhattan Beach.

History Figrefighter teamDuring the 1950’s, we had 21 regular full time firefighters, and 15 volunteers. This period was the end of our heavy dependency upon volunteer firefighters. Ironically, it was in 1951 that our 17 firefighters and 10 volunteers fought a fire that destroyed the Manhattan Hardware. This was, as you remember, the original home of our fire department, and as such carried special significance. It was also in 1951 that our department celebrated a very special honor; the most calls ever run in a single 24 hour shift, eight calls. During this time, the typical firefighter work week was 72 hours: 24 hours on, 24 hours off, with one day off every six shifts.

By 1961, we had a total of 38 personnel. These included the Chief, Battalion Chiefs, Captains, engineers, firefighters, volunteers and reserves. Our department had gained statewide recognition as one of the most efficient departments for its size. The science of firefighting was maturing rapidly, and the advances in training and equipment became increasing apparent in our ability to handle larger and more demanding fires and rescues.
 Old Seagrave Engine Front View

It was during the 1960’s that an organization formed by our city firefighters, the Manhattan Beach Firemen’s League, fought for and achieved a more equitable work schedule. Although the League’s original request to reduce the hours worked per week to 63 failed initially, it was finally authorized in August, 1969. This work week has since been reduced to 56 hours per week, and our firefighters currently work a 48 hour shift on, with 96 hours off. This schedule repeats itself throughout the year through the use of three shifts. A, B and C shift take turns manning our stations so that service is available each day of the year.

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