Artesia remembered a part of its history recently when the city officially dedicated on Corby Avenue to the public.
Mayor John P. Lyon, who helped with the preservation efforts that made the Old Fire Station 30 Museum possible, presided over the ceremonies, which was attended by Supervisor Don Knabe, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby and dozens of other people from the Artesia and Cerritos community.
“Without the community’s involvement, none of this would have been worth doing,” the mayor said in his speech that preceded the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, thanking all involved for making the renovations possible. “All of this was really put together beautifully and I hope today when you go inside, you’ll appreciate it.”
Originally built in Downey in 1937, the station moved south nearly piece by piece (the second story didn’t survive the move) and became an Artesia fixture in 1950. It protected the city for more than 30 years until the current fire station 30 near the intersection of Pioneer Boulevard and South Street was built in 1985 in Cerritos.
The purchased the building in 2005 thanks to funding from Supervisor Knabe and made extensive renovations to preserve the character as it was when it was a fire station. Previously, it housed an ambulance service and the old Artesia Chamber of Commerce.
“We decided we wanted to make the building as historically accurate as possible,” Lyon recounted. “Through the hard work of the [Artesia] Historical Society, they found several of the firefighters who served the city in the past working in this station.”
Several of the family members of the firefighters recounted childhood memories growing up in Artesia.
One of the speakers, Joe Harkema, Jr., son of former firefighter Joe Harkema, recalled how the people who worked at Fire Station 30 were like his family. He remembered how the firefighters helped his family when his father was suffering from tuberculosis.
“Capt. Bob McCurdy taught my mother how to drive and the fire department came down and we had a garage that wasn’t completed,” he said. “They finished my dad’s garage for him, painted the house, kept tires on the cars and kept everything running while my dad was in the hospital. This department was fantastic over those 21 months.”
After completing the restoration in 2010, it became the Fire Service Museum under the guidance of the Artesia Historical Society, which opened it up to the public every second Saturday of the month. Even though it is only open one day of the month, the old fire station has been open to students in the Cerritos-Artesia through field trips throughout the year.