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Compton : Opening Ceremony at Fire Complex

An opening ceremony for Compton’s $2.5-million fire complex, which has been designed to function as a command post and rescue and evacuation center in a catastrophic emergency, will be held Friday.

The complex, which includes a training academy and a fire station, is on West Rosecrans Avenue next to Gonzalez Park and is being named after two pioneers in black firefighter history.

Monroe Smith, who has been the city’s fire chief since 1971, will have his name on the station. He was the first black to head a fire department in California. The academy is being named after the late James H. Shern, who was fire chief in Pasadena and the first black president of the International Assn. of Fire Chiefs.

A helicopter landing pad is among the features of the complex, which also has an auxiliary diesel-fueled power plant that allows the facility to operate under its own power for 14 days. In addition, there is a microwave telephone system that does not depend on conventional lines for transmission.

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The Compton Unified School District and Compton Community College will be the city’s partner in offering fire training classes at the academy. There are four fire stations in the city. The new one, with 13,500 square feet, replaces an older station that was torn down on the same site.


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