Saturday, July 9, 2011

"51 in Quarters"

Today I had the privilege of attending the "51 in Quarters" Emergency! TV series reunion at Los Angeles County Fire Department Station #127 in Carson, CA. This event was hosted by the Los Angeles County Fire Museum located in Bellflower, CA. This event served multiple functions. It was a fundraiser for the museum and the first public reunion for the fans and two cast-members as well as with the original Squad 51 and both Engine 51's used in the series, to wit, both the older open-cab engine as well as the newer closed-cab engine). The closed-cab engine which was the more famous of the two was only just finished being fully restored within days of this event. In attendance was series leading man Randolph Mantooth who played the character of. paramedic Johnny Gage and Mike Stoker  who was a real firefighter with LACoFD but who had a Screen Actor's Guild card and appeared as himself. A series of speeches was made early on during the assembly by various local pubahs most of which were not particularly memorable. However, Randolph Mantooth and LACoFD Chief Daryl Osby gave superb and memorable and weighty speeches well worth listening to which I hope show up on Youtube at some point. It is worth noting that Chief Osby is the first LACoFD chief who came up through the paramedic program as well as being the first black chief. I stood in line with my companions and got a couple of their memorabilia items autographed by both Mantooth and Stoker. Mantooth was the more outgoing and effusive of the two but both were friendly and affable even after many hours of signing autographs and shaking people's hands and having to small-talk with perfect strangers.

223rd Street in Carson was partially shut down for this assembly.

Westward view on 223rd Street.

Eastward view on 223rd Street.

Station #127 from the middle 223rd Street in Carson, CA.

Looking west from in front of the station.

R.A. Cinader was the true creator of and driving force behind the show.

Two LACoFD firefighters dressed in the uniform of the time period of the show.

Classic ambulance model from the 1950's through 1960's.

Fully restored LACoFD Rescue 11.

The original close-cabbed "Engine 51"

LACoFD Explorers mill around behind older Engine #51.

Back view of the station which oft-appeared in the TV show.

Hundreds of fans waited for hours to purchase memorabilia and get autographs.

Quintessential Southern California backdrop... date palms.

Interior of the station's recreation room.

Kitchen area that was oft the center of social interaction in the TV show.

Fire department patches rim the margins of the old wall map oft-seen in the TV series.

Squad #51 was restored about a decade ago.

Newer Engine #51 fully-restored to its original glory.

LACoFD Engine #127 from Station #127 which was Station #51 in the TV show.

LACoFD Ladder #127 parked on 223rd Street to make room for the event.

Static display of various LACoFD apparatus across the street from Station #127.

LACoFD Mobile Air/Light Unit #115

LACoFD hybrid crew bus.

LACoFD Urban Search & Rescue Squad #103

LACoFD Urban Search & Rescue #103

LACoFD Engine #10 (Carson)

LACoFD Hazardous Materials Squad #105

LACoFD Hazardous Materials Squad #105

LACoFD Heavy Rescue #103

Close-up of seal on Heavy Rescue #103

Close-up of Heavy Rescue #103.

LACoFD Mobile Incident Command Post #2

LACoFD Command #2

Interior of LACoFD Mobile Command Post

Live image of outside from tower cam on top of vehicle.

The men

LACoFD's OES Engine #8134

Air Squad #11 approaching the scene of the assembly.

Air Squad #11 became another part of the static display of apparatus.

A genuine medical aid occurred at the static apparatus display.

An ambulance was dispatched to the scene for a heat stroke.

Squad #36 was also dispatched to the scene.

As the hours passed the line never seemed to shorten.

The crowd milling around greatly thinned by mid-afternoon.

For most of the day the station garage was packed with people.

By the afternoon the crowd thinned even while the line did not.

An endless procession of people posed by the primary movie props.

All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).


  1. Some "Emergency!" trivia:

    1. One indication of the public relations victory afforded by R.A. Cinader's (and Jack Webb's) successful show is that for over 20 years, the LAFD had to label their apparatus as "Los Angeles /City/ Fire Department", so as not to be confused with the County Dept.

    2. In the first few episodes of "Emergency!", law enforcement was LACo Sheriff, but later they were generic "police". Not sure what happened, except that during the first season the guys are watching an episode of "Adam-12" and miss the end because of a call. In that "Adam-12" episode, Reed and Malloy joke about LASO using radio codes (whereas LAPD had adopted "plain-English" protocol), and I wonder if somebody at LASO got offended.

    3. About the time "Emergency!" was being produced, the real bunk room of FS 127 was equipped with breathing apparatus mounted by each bunk. The idea was that if the chemical plant across the street blew up, the firefighters would never make it to their apparatus w/o breathing gear.

    3. The original Engine 51 was a Crown FireCoach of the type in service all over CA at the time. (The "coach" in the name reflected Crown's primary business of school buses. Crown Coaches were also ubiquitous in CA, until govt. reactions to Prop 13 caused purchasing of cheaper [though nowhere near as good] buses, and Crown went out of business. Though no new Crowns have been made since the 1970s, there are still many in service.)

    The Engine 51 Crown was technically a "semi-cab". The true "open cab" fire engine had no doors, just a cowl and seats on the frame. The semi-cab had an actual cab structure, but cut off at the "belt line".

    4. The newer Engine 51 was a closed-cab Ward LaFrance, provided for the show by the manufacturer. This was a brand-new model at the time, and turned out to be the last custom Ward LaFrance before the company went out of business. (Ward LaFrance was made in Binghampton NY and was one of the oldest fire apparatus manufacturers. This is not the same company as another pioneer, American LaFrance.)

    5. At the time the show was made, there was no actual FS 51. Currently, there is a FS 51, housing LACoFD contract resources to Universal City and located on the Universal lot. (The show was made at/by Universal, and the station number was assigned as a tribute to the show.)


    1. Very good background infomation. However you are incorrect by stating Ward laFrance went out of business shortly after mnufacturing Engine 51 (a 1973 model). In fact La County purchased about 10 more units the following year and Ward LaFrance continued to maufacture this style custom fire unit until 1977. Coincidentallly, it was my volunteer fire department (Yardley-Makefield, PA) that truly received the FINAl Ward Lafrance pumper built in October of 1977. The unit is now still in service with the Beach Haven Volunteers of New Jersey.

  2. How owns the Cadillac ambulance? I remember Professional Ambulance Service in Glendale. Was this car owned by that company?

    1. I have no knowledge about the ambulance.

    2. I don't know if the Cadillac Ambulance was ever owned by Professional Ambulance Service. The current owner of the ambulance is a man named Lou Farah.

  3. I bet the ambulance is a former Professional vehicle. I do believe it is owned by a friend of Mike Stoker's. I want to say it's Louis Farah, and he actually worked for Professional Ambulance.

  4. I was in the crowd that day and am actually seen in one of the pics. I had a blast, came all the way from Indiana just for the reunion.

  5. I love the sound of the old sirens. They were much easier on the ears than those blarring monsters that we have today. It was a gentler, more peaceful time back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.