Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Emergency!" TV series fire station location tour!

I'd been trying to get down to Carson, CA for some time and visit the actual working fire station that was used in the 1970's TV series "Emergency!". Finally, this past weekend I decided the time was NOW! Refreshing my previous online research, I found the exact, very easy freeway on/off location. So with the theme from the show blaring in the car, I sped south on the 405 to Carson!

Deciding to go on a Sunday was a godsend because traffic was so lite. It only took me 35 minutes to get there. A trip which during the week would have taken an hour and a half! As I got off the exit I once again cranked up the familiar theme, turning down the street I visited on television each week when I was growing up.

There was the familiar fire station in all it's glory!

Located down an industrial street, the area seemed to be a bit desolate and I couldn't spot any lights or movement in the windows of the garage as I drove up. Was it a volunteer fire house? Maybe no one was there at the moment. Quickly I parked my car and began taking photos, knowing that traffic was going to increase on the freeway the later the day got and I didn't want to get caught in it.

As I approached the main garage door, I noticed a plaque hanging to the right of it which honored series creator Robert A. Cinader. Incredible! I had no idea there was this amount of acknowledgement here! The station is even named after Cinader. Not surprising when you realize the amount of influence "Emergency!" had on the fire fighting community and the spread of paramedic units due in part to the awareness this show gave the program.

Another car arrived at the location and a man and his two daughters got out. Turned out he was not only a fan of the show but also a retired paramedic. In a moment I was pretty happy he arrived because after taking a few pics himself, the man went right up and knocked on the door. When no one answered he opened the obviously unlocked door and walked in. He motioned for me to come and I followed.

There was a second door inside this front office so he knocked on that. A resident firefighter answered the door, looked at us and said someone would be out on a moment. Did they know why we were there? A moment later I heard the big front garage door open. Two firefighters stepped out and introduced themselves. At once we were told thousands of people visit this station every year to see where the show was filmed and where Fireman Gage and Desoto lived and worked. So cool!

Suddenly I realized I was in for more than I could have possibly hoped! Considering the fact that I thought I'd only get photos of the exterior. Now I was on my own personal guided tour of the entire facility!!

One of the fireman showed me the rec room and kitchen area, which had been quite a bit remodeled since the show had shot there. However, passing through a door at the other end of the main garage where the big rigs sat, we stepped through a doorway into a main locker room. There in front of me were the actual lockers used in the television show!! Crazy! I was told that I could be one of the last people to see them because they were about to be upgraded. These lockers are all wood and still in amazing condition considering their age. Hey, can I have a door when you're done, please?!

Into the next area it was pointed out that two desks which were still in use to this day were also used in filming the series. Past there were several bunk beds and very familiar waist high brick walls. Again, so much of the station was actually photographed for "Emergency!" as opposed to constructing sets.

A large wall area in the main garage was covered with framed 8x10's from the show along with some artwork signed by Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe. Plus a banner depicted the fire gear of all the firefighter and paramedic characters in the show.

Then came the bombshell I was amazed to find out I had missed!

The firefighter who was giving me the tour began talking about one of the original Squad 51 trucks which had been restored by a fan and brought to the station as part of a special event. Originally they expected around 300 people to come by that day, then realizing that number could double due to awareness. On the actual day of the unveiling, there were 3,000 people in attendance!!! And you know when this took place? LAST SUMMER!!! AAARRRGGGHHH!!! How did I miss that??!!

But wait, there's more!

Randolph Mantooth was there and signed photos for a line of people that ran around the building! OMG, what I would have given to be there!!! [banging head against fire station concrete wall]

I think I was there for over an hour an opposed to the 20 minutes I originally thought I'd spend just taking photos of the exterior. What an amazing day, what an amazing experience and definitely a big one for the location books!

Looking forward to going back again some time in the future. The firefighters said to please visit again anytime. I was truly impressed with the level of professionalism, courtesy and openness these guys showed in opening their doors to fans of "Emergency!".

You can view the entire set of photos I took right here on Flickr! Enjoy!


At September 25, 2012 at 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The event at the firehouse was called 51 In Quarters. The squad is owned by the Los angles county fire museum and they had just restored the ward lafrance eng 51 back to its show self so they held the event at the station to unveil her to the fans. It was the first time in 30 + years that the rigs had been at that fire house together. Randolph Mantooth was there along with Mike Stoker, the driver of the engine on emergency. It was deffintly something you didn't want to miss. A few of us super fans received rides in the squad or the engines and a the closing of the event, the squad and engine pulled out of the station, lights and sirens. What an Awsome memory.

At September 26, 2012 at 2:12 PM, Blogger LA Filmcutter said...

Thank you for sharing this!! I was SO bummed when I found out I'd missed this event! There are a few YouTube videos I've seen that chronicle aspects of that day. I'm so impressed by the efforts to restore the Squad 51 rig.

Hoping that at some point they might do something like this again! I'd be there in a heartbeat!!!

At April 23, 2013 at 7:53 PM, Blogger Scott Lanter said...

I can remember watching Emergency when I was a boy. But, now I'm reliving the entire series by watching it every day on MeTV. Tonight, I went exploring the building where filming took place, and found your great article and photos. Thanks so much for sharing this...especially about the openness of the fire fighters who showed a genuine gesture by welcoming you and offering a tour. God bless our fire fighters. I live in a small town where my father served as fire chief in the mid-1970s. He was always thrilled when someone in the community came to visit the fire house. It's nice to see that spirit still lives. Thanks again for your article. Two thumbs up! You made my day. :)

At June 11, 2013 at 6:38 PM, Blogger Vivian Vigil said...

I love the show Emergency! since I was a young girl of 7nyears old. :) to everyone at Squad 51 as well Rampart :)Respectfully yours Vivian E. Vigil Denver, Colorado

At July 19, 2015 at 5:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watch emergency every day here in york, pa and love the guys who played the firefighters,, any ideas what happened to them all,, i watch on me tv, will plan a trip to carson, ca very soon. Judy, b, york, pa

At March 31, 2017 at 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the series on DVD. It's nice to see the location shots of the mid-1970's. Today everything looks out of date


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