It’s taking time, but Burbank firefighters are trying to put the
department’s 93-year history online.
As the Burbank Fire Department moved into its new headquarters and
a new fire station four years ago, workers found a box full of
black-and-white department photos.
Some were shots of old fire rigs and firefighters, others of
accident scenes and training scenarios.
It was the mother lode for firefighters interested in preserving
the department’s history.
A few years before, Capt. John Nare Jr. had taken on a project
started by his father -- to document the department’s history.
Nare’s father, a retired battalion chief, had documented that
history from 1909 to 1980.
And then the alarm went off in their minds.
“I was putting together these photos, and we just said, ‘Let’s put
this together,’ ” Capt. Ron Bell said.
Since the late 1990s, the two have been slowly combining their
findings to create and update the department’s history. Bell stressed
the process will continue to be slow, since much of the work is on
their own time.
At first, Nare and Bell envisioned putting together a book. But
excessive publishing costs made the project out of reach. Instead,
with the help of Web designers and editors, they plan to put the
department’s written history and illustrations on its Web site. None
of it is there yet, but Bell hopes in a few months, some information
will be on the site.
“A lot of us feel the Fire Department is created over tradition,
and it’s a very proud tradition,” Bell said. “A lot of us are
involved in that and we want to keep that going.”
Slowly, Nare has researched while off duty. He has already updated
the history to 2000 and is almost done entering it into his computer.
The many items Nare has contributed include major incidents such
as fires, the evolution of department companies such as its hazardous
materials team, the hiring of the department’s first woman
firefighter in 1997 and the Southwest Airlines crash onto Hollywood
Way in March 2000.
He also documented the appointments of personnel and the issuing
of new apparatus, just as his father did.