Memorial services will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27, for Paul A. Orduna, the Los Angeles City Fire Department’s first African American assistant fire chief. Orduna died on Oct. 5 at the age of 85. The services will beheld at the African American Firefighter’s Museum located at 1401 Central Ave. at 1 p.m.
Orduna served in the U.S. Air Force for two years where he received specialized training as a diesel mechanic. He was stationed in the Philippines for nine months and received an honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1946.
In 1952, Orduna joined the Omaha, Neb., Fire Department where he remained for four years. He was offered a position as a firefighter with the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 1957.
Orduna’s career as a firefighter in the racially tense ’50s and ’60’s was punctuated by isolation, hardships and indignities. Yet, his drive and commitment to succeed never wavered.
In 1974, he was promoted to Captain I and supervised some of the busiest fire companies in the city. He was also recruited as an instructor at the department’s Recruit Training Academy. In 1978, Orduna was promoted to the position of Captain II and was transferred to the community liaison office, becoming the department’s affirmative action officer and equal employment opportunity coordinator.
In June 1980, Orduna was promoted to battalion chief, a major accomplishment because he was only the second Black battalion chief in the department’s history. With the goal of becoming assistant fire chief, he returned to school and obtained a bachelor’s degree in management.
In February 1986, he became the first Black assistant fire chief, and was eventually given an emergency appointment to the position of deputy chief.
Orduna retired on Jan. 26, 1991, after 33 years of service.
He is survived by his daughter, Gloria O’Quinn; two grandsons, Michael Holmes and Charles O’Quinn IV, and a sister, Amelia Donaldson.