Frank Borden, legendary Firefighter and international leader in emergency operations passes away.

Frank Borden
1938-2021

Frank W. Borden, Retired Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Fire Dept

Frank W. Borden, Retired Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Fire Dept. and Club Member, died April 9. He was 82.

Frank W. Borden, Retired Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Fire Dept.; president of the Fallen Firefighters Memorial; chief restorer of Fire Boat 2 in San Pedro; innovator of emergency operations; husband and father; and Club Member, died April 9. The LAFD made the announcement. He was 82.

Frank Borden and his retired crew at work restoring the Fire Boat 2, the Ralph J. Scott.

The Club, in accord with the LAFD, the City and the international firefighting community, mourns his loss. He was featured on the Alive! cover twice, once each for his work in retirement on the Fallen Firefighters Memorial and Fire Boat 2, the Ralph J. Scott.

Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas wrote: “The LAFD today mourns the loss of a true trailblazer in the field of Emergency Management and the founder of our CERT program, which was the first of its kind in the nation. Rest in Peace, Chief Borden.”

The LAFD wrote:

“It is impossible to overstate the impact LAFD Assistant Chief (Retired) Frank Borden had on not only the City of Los Angeles, but on the entire country. In the world of emergency management, Frank Borden is legendary.

“In 1986, using information gathered by visiting both Japan and Mexico to study their response to disastrous earthquakes, Frank launched the LAFD’s pilot program Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Community members were taught basic fire suppression, first aid and search/evacuation techniques. Just a year later, the value of CERT was demonstrated with the effectiveness of its members after the Whittier Narrows Earthquake. Seven years later, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) established it as the national standard, bringing this life-saving training and operation to cities throughout the country.

Frank Borden and Club CEO John Hawkins during construction of the LAFD’s Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Hollywood, June 2005.

“Frank was also an instrumental leader in the development and implementation of the Incident Command System and the national Urban Search and Rescue programs. Both of these programs revolutionized the disaster response system and built a better future for emergency management.

“Frank retired after 36 years in the LAFD but did not retire from his tireless efforts to better prepare the country for disaster. As a consultant, he continued helping companies, agencies and organizations in both private and public sectors (both nationally and internationally) develop emergency plans, training programs and training exercises. He was committed to bringing effective emergency management to all the corners of the world.”

The Club featured Frank’s tireless efforts to build the Fallen Firefighters Memorial at the Los Angeles Fire Dept. Historical Society in Hollywood, raising funds to honor the LAFD Firefighters who died in the line of duty. Frank was the Memorial’s Director of Operations.

We also featured the efforts of Frank and his crew to restore Fire Boat 2, the Ralph Stanley, then in dry dock in San Pedro. Plans for the boat include its display along the San Pedro Riverfront once its restoration is completed.

“There will not likely be one single person who had the same transformative effect on an industry like he did,” the LAFD concluded. “The loss of Frank is deeply felt by all those who knew, respected and loved him. May his spirit rest easy, knowing he made a truly lasting difference.”


The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Frank’s name to the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society via mail to: 1355 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028.

The Club sends its deep condolences to his widow, Raquel, and his family.

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