San Diego County
To the development of San Diego’s fire department Louis Almgren has devoted the best efforts of his life, rendering to the city invaluable service in this connection. He is acknowledged to be one of the most progressive and able fire chiefs in this country. Born in Peoria, Illinois, February 5, 1876, he was brought to San Diego when a lad of eleven years by his parents, Louis and Elise (Peters) Almgren, both now deceased. The father, a painter and decorator, passed away at Los Angeles in 1929.
A public school education was accorded Louis Almgren. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War he enlisted in the United States Navy, and was in the service of his country for two years. Returning to San Diego after being honorably discharged he associated with his father in the management of his business, with which he remained identified for several years. While thus engaged he was a call man of the local fire department, which then had only a few paid men on its staff. On September 1, 1903, he became a regular member of the fire department. A close student of fire department duties and particularly dependable and capable, Mr. Almgren was repeatedly promoted, finally receiving the appointment as chief engineer of the San Diego Fire Department in 1909, and in May, 1932, completed twenty-three years of service in that office. It was Chief Almgren’s mechanical ingenuity that enabled him to design and supervise the construction of the first gasoline motored fire boat ever operated in this country. He has always been a devoted student, alert to every modern improvement in his line of endeavor. A strict disciplinarian, he has perfected a highly efficient system of fire fighting and it was due to his efforts that San Diego was among the first cities of the United States to completely motorize its equipment in this department of municipal service. When he assumed the duties of chief, San Diego had but thirty-two paid firemen. There are now twenty fire stations, with a staff of two hundred and ten men, whose training has been rigorous and thorough. On account of San Diego’s vast shipping and maritime interests a fully equipped and competently manned fire boat is maintained on the water front.
In 1901 Mr. Almgren was married to Miss Thelma Theresa Liljegren and three children were born to them: Louis Robert, Sidney E. and Gertrude Theresa. All are married, Louis R. residing in Los Angeles, and Gertrude F. and Sidney E. in San Diego. Mr. Almgren belongs to the International Association of Fire Chiefs; is a past president of the Pacific Coast Association of Fire Chiefs; a member of the Spanish-American War Veterans; and past president of the San Diego Rowing Club. He is also a Mason, belonging to the Shrine, and a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He resides at 2404 University Avenue and his office is in the fire station at Tenth and B streets. His ability and devotion to duty have not only won for him the respect of his subordinates and the citizens of San Diego but a high place in the councils of the fire chiefs of the United States.
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 29-30, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.