museum and facility.
"I wouldn't know the first thing about how to operate these trucks,"
Fraser said as he eyed the engine on display in the museum, which is in
the lobby of the Fire Department Headquarters on 3rd Street.
Because of a foot injury, Fraser rolled through the halls in a
wheelchair, telling the stories behind the aged photos on the walls. He
pointed out himself, decked out in a kilt with abagpipe, standing with
other members of the department's band. Fraser reminisced about his
partners in crime when it came to playing tricks and rattled off
nicknames of some of the men from a 1938 photo.
In the museum, Fraser was wowed by the gear firefighters now wear.
When he started, there were no breathing apparatuses.
"We just ate the smoke," Fraser said, shaking his head.
When Fraser read about the museum's opening in a newspaper, he called
Chief Mike Davis to offer his memorabilia, consisting of a collection of
pictures, a tin helmet and two badges. Terry Mencuri, who recently
was named Firefighter of the Year and oversees the museum, said the
helmet is from the 1930s but said he'd never seen a badge like the ones
Fraser had and had no idea how old they might be.
"They were all used when he got them," Mencuri said of Fraser's
badges. Fraser joined the Burbank Fire Department in 1943 and retired in
Fraser has more than 50 years of fire service throughout the area. He
started in Tujunga at the age of 18, participating in monthly drills
because there was no fire academy training available at the time.
As an on-call firefighter for the newly formed city, Fraser earned $2 per
fire and $1 per drill.
"When I was 7 or 8 years old, I knew I wanted to become a
firefighter," Fraser said.
The department will not restore Fraser's black tin helmet, which he
hand-painted for inspections, and will place it in a new case alongside
his badges and other old items. The department is looking for other
former firefighters who may have other historic memorabilia.