Sept. 20, 1961 Top stories of the Pleasanton Times
Headline: "VCSD Debates Reprimand For Fire Chief"
Charges of incompetence and talk of suspension filled a stormy session of the Valley Community Services District board. Fire Chief George Walser was hauled on the carpet for letting a "controlled" exercise fire get out of hand to a point at which a general alarm was sounded, summoning two other departments to contain the flames.
The charges against Walser came out of a Sept. 9 drill when an abandoned barn on the Cronin ranch was to be destroyed by fire. Only five members of the department turned out with Chief Walser for the exercise, however. Then, according to VCSD Manager Jack Wright, these further circumstances compounded the error:
The chief failed to take all necessary precautions; a nearby Camp Parks hydrant was padlocked and unavailable to the department; another hydrant owned by the VCSD was faulty; a nearby ditch hindered access by fire equipment; the chief failed to size up these limitations in authorizing the test burning.
That report came as a result of board Chairman James Glenn's complaint. Wright's explanation brought prompt support for the chief from Mrs. Walser, a board member. She noted that, "Chief Walser is only a volunteer; he can't be running around checking out everything 24 hours a day."
Chief Walser continued to defend the drill, noting he "couldn't help it if only five men turned out ... I can't force them to attend."
He supported such drills as the only way for new men to gain experience. Talk of suspending Chief Walser failed to get board support. Glenn suggested a board of inquiry be assembled, made up of other chiefs. That motion was later withdrawn, however, when it was agreed other chiefs would not likely sit on such a board.
Wilson got in a final shot, however. He urged the board to speed up selection of a full-time, paid fire chief because "I feel a moral responsibly to protect our equipment and to keep someone from being killed."
Real Estate: Murphy Realty Co., Pleasanton. Three-bedroom, two-bath, built-ins, hardwood floors, oriental landscaping, $19,750 or $110 per month, includes taxes and insurance.
Groceries: P&X Foods. Maxwell House Coffee, two-pound tin for 99 cents; rump roast, 73 cents a pound; apples, four pounds for 49 cents.
At the Movies: Vine Theater, Livermore. Adults only, Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries."
Trivia Question: Oct. 1, 1982, the Sony CDP-101, the world's first commercial CD player, was released in Japan. What did it cost?
Answer to last week's question: Bob Dylan played harmonica at his first recording session -- as backup to Caroline Hester.
Contact Louise Hartman at lhartman@bayarea- newsgroup.com or follow on Twitter at Newsie1195.