If you’ve ever been to a Los Angeles City fire station, you may have noticed a vintage fire extinguisher hanging on the wall. This is thanks to Ted Bailie, now retired from the LAFD. Back in the late 1980s, he had the brilliant idea to use the extinguishers to collect the loose change that was usually just tossed into the station’s mess fund in order to donate it to the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund. It became an easy way for firefighters to give back and help their own.
It’s not just the firefighters who donate. The extinguisher is often part of the tour during school visits, open houses, and other events at the station. Sometimes they’re even taken to firefighter-related events to help spread awareness of Widows & Orphans. From loose change to checks, all of the money donated goes to help firefighter families in need. Every penny helps. The extinguishers hang in every single LAFD station, so be sure to keep an eye out on your next visit.
While the extinguishers may appear mostly decorative now, displayed on wooden plaques with an informative placard, they were all real working soda acid fire extinguishers in the past. Now they’re helping people in another way: raising much-needed funds to support Widows & Orphans.
By Jody Houser