Tarzana Fireman Dies in the Line of Duty

Saturday, August 21, 2010 |

The talk around Los Angeles Fire Station 93 shifted from topic-to-topic among the tight-knit crew, as the Bee-Gees 'Jive Talkin' played quietly from a small FM radio at the rear of the Tarzana neighborhood fire station.

The subject of fire alarm boxes - recently removed from the street corners of Los Angeles, was among the debated topics. What wasn't debated was the painstaking work required by Tarzana's finest to keep their reserve aerial ladder truck in service.

As the half-dozen dungaree-clad men worked together on the aged apparatus, they cheerfully discussed the pending football season and their beloved hometown team, the Rams. It was a time when nothing was probable and anything was possible.

It was the Summer of 1975.

Fallen Los Angeles Firefighter Dominic A Pascal. Click to learn more...
Fallen Los Angeles Firefighter Dominic A. Pascal
Dominic A. Pascal was appointed to the Los Angeles Fire Department on July 2, 1956. At 31 years of age, the new Fireman commenced his dream when Eisenhower occupied The White House, cars had yet to grow fins - and a young man named Elvis Presley had yet to make his television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The temperature was mild and skies clear in Tarzana on August 21, 1975, as Firefighter Dominic Pascal and colleagues completed their daily maintenance work on the 1943 Kenworth tractor and its later-fitted 85-foot aerial ladder (that replaced a 1923 wooden relic fitted to trail the Kenworth in its early years of service).

1943 LAFD Kenworth Aerial Ladder Truck. Click to view more...
1943 Kenworth Tractor-drawn Aerial Ladder Truck (LAFD Shop #903)
Yes, the 'old lady' - a World War II relic outdated by it's 12th year on the road, had quite a history. Despite more than 32 years of continuous service, it was seen to fit the austere times when Los Angeles Firemen were asked time and again to do more for longer with less.

In retrospect, fire buffs and historians would note a common thread in calamitous LAFD events.

LAFD Fallen Fireman Dominic Pascal on Mountain Patrol Duty. Click to view more...
Fireman Dominic A. Pascal
on LAFD Mountain Patrol duty
Having shared a busy day and his last meal with younger firemen fascinated by his time in Mountain Patrol and other LAFD assignments, Pascal was stopped mid-sentence in the early evening by an alarm from the Fire Department's dispatch center.

With a report that a Molotov cocktail had been tossed into the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, a retirement community for the entertainment industry, Task Force 93 was dispatched as part of a first alarm structure fire assignment.

While westbound on Ventura Boulevard, Truck 93's driver, Auto Fireman Kenneth R. Thompson, noticed a northbound Datsun sedan momentarily stop at the intersection of Winnetka Avenue. The motorist then entered the intersection directly in front of the old reserve aerial ladder truck.

Thompson miraculously avoided a collision, but the truck jackknifed. Fireman Pascal, who was standing on the running board while clinging to a rail immediately behind Captain Lewis J. Miller, Jr. was crushed between the tractor and aerial ladder.

The car's driver did not stop.

Pascal, age 50, the married father of three, died in Rescue Ambulance 100 while en route to Tarzana Hospital.

The report of a fire at the retirement community proved false.

Learn more about Dominic and other LAFD members who have paid the ultimate price in their service to the City by visiting:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

My name is Nathan, and I own the 1943 Kenworth Truck 93 talked about in this article. I was amazed to find out the damage still visible on the back of the truck came from the 1975 accident. I bought the truck 8 years ago with plans to restore, I have started and it's proving to be more than a one man job. I now have a new perspective on this truck.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, my name is Rick. In February of 1973 (actual promotion date was 1/22/73) I was promoted to "AutoFireman" and assigned to Truck 17. 17's normal apparatus was a 1962 Seagrave with a 100 foot aerial, but it was in the shops for maintenence during my first few shifts, and the relief truck was the 43 Kenworth which you now own. If memory serves me correctly, the aerial ladder is 100 feet, not 85 and was on a 1938 Seagrave trailer (grafted together by our shops I would imagine). I also worked with Dominic Pasqual when I was assigned to Fire Station 22 at 4366 S. Main street. Best of luck whth your restoration project.

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