LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE MUSEUM COLLECTION
1924 American LaFrance Type 75 · Home Gardens
This 1924 American LaFrance in our collection is Engine 15, delivered on October 30, 1924 and assigned to the Home Gardens Fire Protection District. Home Gardens was a short-lived fire protection district. It was formed in 1924 and dissolved in 1928 when the area was annexed to the City of South Gate.
Engine 15 then became South Gate Engine 2. It was driven on its last mission by Curtis Jones, at the time of this writing, a Los Angeles County Fire Department retiree. At the time, Jones was a “boot” (newly hired) Fireman with the South Gate Fire Department.
One of his duties was to care for the ’24 LaFrance, then a reserve engine. During a large commercial fire in South Gate, Jones was ordered to bring the reserve rig to the scene of the incident to make use of its 750 GPM pump and fire hose. The old girl pumped for three hours straight, proving she still had what it took.
It was a 1924 American LaFrance nonetheless, and afterwards Curtis Jones then was told to drive the rig to the playground at South Gate Park. There, its hoods were welded shut and equipment removed. She served as a large toy for generations of children who succeeded in pounding her exterior to scrap.
In about 1996 we learned that old Engine 15 was scheduled to be disposed of. At the time we knew nothing of the old rig’s history but we thought it might be a good source of parts for other restorations. What we found was a remarkably preserved motor and drivetrain, which piqued our interest and encouraged further research. After exchanging letters with the City of South Gate, Engine 15 returned to her original home with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. When the time comes, both the Signal Hill and Home Gardens engines will be restored side by side, simultaneously.