Ormiel E. Barney
Wednesday, November 21, 1917
Barney, Ormiel E.
Serial Number: Unknown
Location: Sawtelle hills. (North of the LA
Date Killed: Wednesday, November 21, 1917
Cause of Death: Burned to Death
Every fall as the lush green vegetation of spring dies out in
Southern California, the hills covered by the ubiquitous chaparral
bushes, seemingly erupt from the slightest ember or automobile
backfire. Resources are marshaled as the fire department springs to
action to fight the raging infernos, by day and night. During these
times, LAPD officers serve in a supporting role as was the case
most recently in the fall of 2008, in the northern San Fernando
valley. Such was also the case in mid-November 1917, when a fire
broke out in the area formerly known as Sawtelle, just north of
today's Los Angeles National Cemetery in West Los Angeles. It was
there that Patrolman Ormiel E. Barney responded to help fight the
fire and where he ultimately lost his life.
Patrolman Barney was born on June 17, 1879, in Trenton, Michigan,
to George and Ida Barney. Ormiel was one of three children born to
the couple. The senior Barney worked as a railroad conductor and it
was this employment that brought the family to San Bernardino,
California by 1900. At the time, Ormiel worked as a machinist but
he briefly followed his father's career choice and worked in the
railroad industry. However, Ormiel would answer the call for public
service, not once but twice.
In 1910, Ormiel Barney joined the Los Angeles Police Department
where he and his wife Mana lived on Grand Avenue near 2nd Street.
However, during the next five years, ill health struck Barney and
he was forced to retire from the department on October 4, 1915.
Eventually, Barney, his wife Mana and the couple's daughter, moved
to Arizona where Barney attempted to recuperate. The dry Arizona
climate was apparently conducive towards good health as Barney made
a full recovery and returned to Los Angeles in 1917.
Upon his return to Los Angeles, Barney found that police officers
were still in high demand and he chose to take the civil service
entrance exam. He passed and in October 1917, Ormiel E. Barney was
reappointed to the Department. By then, the city of Los Angeles had
annexed the area known as Sawtelle, which was located around
Sepulveda and Pico Boulevard. Barney worked the Westgate beat and
on November 21, 1917, he responded to fight a brush fire in the
area of the Old Soldiers' home, which is where today's National
Cemetery is situated.
Within a day, the brushfire was quelled. It was then that officials
found Barney's remains. Barney apparently was overcome fighting the
flames and became the only Los Angeles Police officer ever to be
killed in the line of duty as a result of fighting a fire. Ormiel
E. Barney was survived by his wife Mana and daughter, Winifred. He
was buried at Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery, located at 1831 West
Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, where his gravestone may be
viewed on their website.
Lieutenant J. A. Macias, #27710, LAPD