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RETIREE SPOTLIGHT

WILLIAM R. SPURRIER

Retired Deputy Fire Chief LBFD 1949-1978

William Spurrier was a First Class Scout with Troop 8 in the Long Beach Area Council. He graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in 1943. He served in the United States Army Air Force during World War II. He was a member of the Army Air Force 397th Bomber Group flying missions over Europe. After the war, he attended Long Beach City College.

William Spurrier started his career with the Long Beach Fire Department in 1949. He was instrumental in early equipment development like helmet shields, apparatus identification numbers, the installation of lights and generators on trucks with controls located in the cab, having breathing apparatus removed from their individual storage cases and installed on engines and trucks for quick and easy use. Initiated the arson investigation role in the Fire Prevention Bureau. He retired as a Deputy Fire Chief in 1978.

During his career, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He was a member of the Fire Department Credit Union Audit Committee, and edited and produced the program for the annual firefighters Fireworks Show on the 4th of July. He also taught Fire Science classes through the community college system.

In 1963, then Long Beach Fire Chief Leonard Foster was asked by the local Boy Scout Area Council to form a fire explorer post. Fire Chief Foster was aware of a new search and rescue format and proposed that the Fire Department join the Motor Patrol Association as cosponsors of a new Search & Rescue Post. Fire Captain William Spurrier was asked to serve as the Post’s first fire advisor along with Officer Dick Johansen as police advisor. This initial partnering of the Long Beach Police Motor Patrol Association and the Long Beach Firefighters Union, along with strong support of both the police and fire chiefs, was essential in successfully launching this new program. Explorer Post 279 was now called Long Beach Search & Rescue.

William Spurrier was an active adult leader with Long Beach Search & Rescue from 1963 to 1980. After moving away, then returning to the area in 2005, he is once again an active adult leader with 32 years of service with Search & Rescue.

For their work with Search & Rescue, he and Dick Johansen were awarded the William H. Spurgeon III Award in 2006. This is the highest recognition for individuals and organizations contributing significant leadership to the Exploring program.

William Spurrier has rendered outstanding leadership to the Exploring program for many years. He has consistently demonstrated ethical and moral behavior in both his professional and personal life. As a Scout leader, he serves as a mentor and role model to young adults, many of who have been inspired to begin their own careers in the emergency services fields. As an Explorer Post Advisor, Chief Spurrier has been and continues to be an outstanding role model for our leaders of tomorrow.

Long Beach Search & Rescue is an award-winning Specialist Explorer Post that recruits and trains the “Leaders of Tomorrow”.

They provide young adults an opportunity to serve the public during emergency situations through a program of community service.

They have been around for 57 years. They are the oldest youth Explorer Post still in continuous operation in the nation.

They are all volunteers – no one is paid. Long Beach Search & Rescue has trained over 1,200 young men and women. Several hundred of these young volunteers have gone onto become professional police officers, firefighters, and paramedics.

The Long Beach Police Department has hired 32 of their youth members. The Long Beach Fire Department has hired 55 of their youth members. The various branches of the United States Military have recruited 41 of their youth members.

They are co-sponsored by the Long Beach Motor Patrol Association and the Long Beach Firefighters’ Associations.

Their specialty is Urban Search & Rescue. Since 2007, the Unit has been typed as a Level II-Medium rescue resource by the State Office of Emergency Services (Cal-OES) Fire/Rescue Branch. Since 2008, the Unit has also been typed as a Level III-Light rescue resource by Cal-OES.

Since 2010, the Unit has been certified for SAR mutual aid as a Type 3 Ground Searcher and Type 3 SAR/US&R disciplines with the Law Enforcement Branch of Cal-OES and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Besides weekly training sessions, the members respond to emergency incidents at the request of the Long Beach Police and Fire Departments.

They assist the Fire Department at 2nd Alarm and greater fire incidents, at haz-mat incidents, at aircraft accidents, and natural disasters, such as during severe wind and rain storms and high tide flooding.

They assist the Police Department at missing person searches, evidence searches, SWAT team incidents, major crime scenes, officer involved shooting investigations, and canvassing neighborhoods with crime flyers.

Search & Rescue provides the emergency personnel working these incidents with refreshments, snacks, and meals from their mobile kitchen. They provide emergency lighting to fire and crime scenes after dark and during power failure blackouts. They provide trained, uniformed members to support the Fire and Police Department personnel at their command posts and emergency incident locations at least twice every month.

Search & Rescue also provides safety support at many community events throughout the year. They assist at the Ready Long Beach and other City safety fairs, Fire Department recruit graduations, Spark of Love & holiday toy giveaways, Scout-O-Rama, and monthly Police Department sobriety checkpoints.

Each year, the members of Search & Rescue volunteer over 22,000 hours of service to the community. Over the past 57 years, the members have volunteered 1,004,248 hours of community service. This equates to a value of nearly $30.1 million.

They currently have 55 youth members, and 41 adult leaders. Almost all of the adult leaders started as youth members.

Here are the career success stories of current and former Search & Rescue members:

  • 32 Youth Members hired by the Long Beach Police Department

  • 55 Youth Members hired by the Long Beach Fire Department

  • 21 Youth Members hired by the Los Angeles City Fire Department

  • 11 Youth Members hired by the Los Angeles County Fire Dept.

  • 6 Youth Members hired by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept.

  • 23 Youth Members hired by other Police Departments

  • 50 Youth Members hired by other Fire Departments

  • 42 Youth Members enlisted in the United States Military

Their current adult leaders working for the Long Beach Fire Department are:

  • Fire Captain Charly Baker

  • Fire Captain Kory Knapp

  • Firefighter-Paramedic Mike Morrison

  • Firefighter-Paramedic Richard Storey

  • Firefighter-Paramedic Tyler Viana

  • Firefighter Adam Gjersvold

  • Ambulance Operator William Yuth

They are always looking for past Search & Rescue members currently working for the Long Beach Fire Department to return and help mentor the “Leaders of Tomorrow”. Come out to one of their meetings on a Tuesday night and volunteer, again.