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Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 55  |  July 10, 2020

Laguna Beach Fire Department marks 100th Anniversary

The Laguna Beach Fire Department marks its centennial year in 2019, celebrating 100 years of service in the City of Laguna Beach. On Sunday, Oct 27, current and retired Laguna Beach Firefighters commemorated the Department’s 100-year anniversary with a badge-pinning and gathering at City Hall.

“For 100 years the Laguna Beach Fire Department has sworn to protect the community, taking pride in our history and protecting the City we serve,” said Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia. “Our mission is to provide emergency response, prevention, preparedness, and education to residents, businesses, and visitors of our City so they can live safely and prosper in a hazard-resilient community. I would like to thank all of the past and present members of this Fire Department for their unwavering dedication to the City of Laguna Beach over the last 100 years,” Garcia said.

Laguna Beach firemen

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Firefighters during the anniversary celebration 

The Laguna Beach Fire Department was started in 1919 with a crew of just 21 volunteer firefighters. The first official fire station was built by volunteer firefighters in 1924 and located directly across from the current Laguna Beach Police Station on what is now Loma Place. At that Fire Station (then called a “Fire House” as depicted in a 1920s photo) the 1921 Model-T Fire Engine was housed.

The department’s 1931 Seagrave Suburbanite Fire Engine, affectionately called “The Seagrave,” is currently in storage in Costa Mesa awaiting restoration. The City bought the engine brand new in 1931 and is looking forward to celebrating its 100th birthday in 2031. 

Laguna Beach badge

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The badge designed to commemorate LB Fire’s 100th anniversary 

Fire Department Milestones:

--1948: The Fire Department went from an all-volunteer staffed Fire Department to a paid/career Fire Department

--1968: The Fire Department expanded with personnel and facilities with the addition of the Agate Street Fire Station (Fire Station #2) and the Top of the World Fire Station (Fire Station #3)

--1988: The City annexation of South Laguna resulted in expanding the Department to its present-day four-station configuration

In addition, the Department implemented an in-house Paramedic Program using Laguna Beach Firefighters as dual-function Firefighter/Paramedics. Paramedics were previously provided by the Orange County Fire Department.

There are currently 42 members of the Laguna Beach Fire Department with 37 of those members divided equally into three Platoons/Shifts. Each shift staffs each Fire Station with three firefighters in the rank of Fire Captain, Fire Engineer, and Firefighters. Fire Chief Mike Garcia, the Department’s 21st Fire Chief, currently leads the Laguna Beach Fire Department as it celebrates its Centennial of Service in 2019. 

Nearly all of the City of Laguna Beach and its surrounding 16,000 acres of open space are designated by Cal Fire as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. This designation underscores the significant wildfire risk in the City. The City has a hilly terrain, significant vegetation that is fuel for wildfires and it subject to hot, dry summer and fall seasons, and high-speed Santa Ana winds. 

Laguna Beach fire

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Courtesy of LBFD 

The devastating 1993 El Morro fire 

These conditions are frequently involved in the most destructive fires in the region. Due to these conditions in the natural environment, the City has a history of wildfires, the most devastating of which occurred in 1993 when Laguna Beach was struck by a Santa Ana wind-driven fire that consumed over 14,000 acres, caused the evacuation of over 23,000 people, and destroyed 441 homes and structures in less than a day. The City also experienced wildfires in 2015 and 2018 which started in open space. 

The City of Laguna Beach is encouraging residents to be better prepared for a wildfire by creating a defensible space and creating a defensible home. You can do this by using fire-safe construction materials and looking for points of entry where embers could intrude into your home or attic during a fire.

Home and property safety preparation should also include creating defensible space around your home by clearing vegetation at least 30 to 100 feet away from your home and using fire resistant landscaping to help stop the spread of wildfire. Residents should also remove all dead or dying vegetation from their yard, roof and rain gutters.

Residents can sign up for a free wildlife consultation by the Laguna Beach Fire Department by clicking here or by calling (949) 497-0700.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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