LA County Fire Department Aerial Truck 8 at the Hollywood Bowl
On a recent trip to Hollywood, California, I decided to visit some of my favorite historical places, including the Hollywood Bowl. Rather than watching a concert, I just wanted to see the place on a Sunday afternoon. Upon arrival at the parking lot, I realized it had been almost thirty-nine years since my last visit, on September 7, 1973.
I still have fond memories of that classic night at the premier Hollywood venue. Some call it “The Lost Concert”. Others Google “Elton+1973” and find Harvey Jordan’s classic image of Elton John playing live at the Hollywood Bowl. To this day, my Elton John 9/7/73 T-shirt from that night is a treasured artifact.
When I was growing up, every boy wanted to be either a “fireman” or a “policeman”. Today, every child, regardless of gender can aspire to be a firefighter or a police officer. Still, the little boy in me stopped and stared when I saw Los Angeles County Fire Department Truck 8, which is an immense “tillered ladder”, with separate rear wheel steering. Also called a tractor-drawn aerial (TDA) or hook-and-ladder truck, it featured a turntable ladder mounted on a semi-trailer "lorry", as the British might say.
In motion, it would have two drivers, each with separate steering wheels for the front and rear wheels. The fifth-wheel articulating design provides a short turning radius and high maneuverability. Rear trailer steering allows the “tiller driver” to negotiate tight corners and congested streets in and around its West Hollywood home base.
With research, I discovered that Truck 8 is A Quint truck is both a pumper and a ladder truck. A "Quint" has: 1. a pump, 2. hose, 3. a water tank, 4. ground ladders, and 5. an aerial ladder. Truck 8 has a 1000-gpm pump, and carries 300 gallons of water, and 25 gallons of foam, delivered through a pre-piped aerial waterway. Truck 8 carries 218 ft. of ground ladders, an Amkus Rescue System and seven air bags. With only 300 gallons of water onboard, Truck/Quint 8 supplements available resources rather than acting as an engine/truck combination.
Truck 8 was immaculate, from bow to tiller. There was no grease, grime or even dust on its traditional high-lacquer red finish. With its pristine look, I would not have guessed that the truck had already seen fourteen years of service. To me, it was timeless, as were my wishes to fight fires and save lives. Growing up in Los Angeles in mid-century, I watched the TV show “Rescue 8” and the later TV show, called “Emergency”. Both shows featured LACoFD Station 8, where Truck 8 stands ready today.
On the front bumper of the aerial truck was a large black and white sticker featuring the old Route 66 logo. Seeing the distinctive logo, I recalled that nearby Interstate I-10 (the Santa Monica Freeway) was the replacement road for Old-66 through Los Angeles. During a recent spate of arson fires in and around Hollywood, Truck 8 responded to the multiday fire-related disaster.
After recovering from my daydreams of being the tiller driver on Truck 8, I spotted members of LACoFD Station 8 conducting a live firefighting drill in the parking lot. As their water source, they employed Engine 8, which operates a 1995 KME 1000-gpm engine. Wearing yellow waterproof gear, Firefighter Darney, trained a hose skyward, casting an arc of water gently across the sky. On first look, it looked like a waste of water. Stepping closer, I saw that he directed the stream of water into the extensive landscaping throughout the terraced parking lot.
With the old Pilgrimage Theater cross standing on the far hillside and the sun at his back, the firefighter trained the powerful stream of water back and forth across the landscape. As he did so, the cascade of falling water created a rainbow all around him. It was a glorious sight on a clear winter day in the City of the Angels. Later, I realized that Coney the Traffic Cone had sidled up close to the firefighter, to take in all the action.