The Walker Fire Department origins begin in 1913 and was finally incorporated in 1924. It was a time when Walker was much like it is today: a rural area whose land is primarily used for dairy, fruit and cash-crop farming. The land is mostly flat and in general has excellent soil that produces good crops.
At that time the railroad regularly ran through Walker with an active station just north of the tracks. Another important part of the community at that time was a large hotel located at the corner of Walker and Walker Lake-Ontario roads.
It seems to have been the burning of the hotel in the winter of 1919 that in fact inspired a number of local people to organize a fire department. Their founders were: Bert Early, B.J. Snooks, Bill Miller, Frank Sigler, and Ben Haight.
To provide a firehouse, a two story wooden building was moved from behind the burned out hotel to the site of the current firehouse in 1920.
A 1921 Chevrolet chassis was purchased from Boughs Chevrolet , in Brockport, and built up by local craftsmen from Morton and Hamlin. V.H. Early painted the truck. Two horse drawn firecarts were also obtained.
With these humble beginnings, the Walker Fire Department was officially incorporated on November 7, 1924. The original certificate of incorporation hangs in the fire hall today.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the fire department, like the church, was a center for community activities and social life. “Lute” Diedrich recently recalled the Walker baseball teams that played on the town diamond. It was located on the Bill Miller farm at the corner of Hamlin Center and Walker Lake-Ontario roads. George Klafehn, ticket agent for the railroad, managed the team for awhile and arranged games from as far away as Kent and Charlotte.
In those years most of the money raised for the Fire Department was from an annual field day which featured airplane rides for $5 per person. An annual turkey raffle was also popular for many years.
According to notes from past chief Lloyd Westcott, the church bell was rung to sound the alarm in an emergency. A used siren was purchased to later “modernize” the emergency call.
In 1934 the Walker Fire Department was further modernized with the purchase of a 1934 Ford truck. During this era, Roy Hiler, who was both a fire chief and commissioner, played a very active role in the fire department. Today there is a five acre park behind the fire hall called “Hiler Memorial Park” . The land was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Luther Schilt in the 1970’s.
Any reaccounting of the good times at the old Walker Fire Hall would fall short if the Saturday night dances and upstairs pool table weren’t mentioned. Lute Diedrich recalled Kiddo Westcott as being one of the better pool players in the early years.
During the 1940’s Herb Brice started his eleven year term of office as fire chief.
Burke Fitzsimmons recently recalled how during the 1950’s the fire department sponsored an annual minstrel show. It was held in the Hilton High School on West Avenue., with practices held upstairs at the firehouse. For those of us that know Al Haight, it’s not hard to imagine the good times and high level of enthusiasm associated with those rehearsals and performances.
The first new “modern” piece of fire equipment purchased was a 1963 Ford pumper tanker with 500 gallons of water and a 750 gallon/min. pump. Past chief Charlie Maiers recently recalled how Bob Way, Jerry Ryan, Lee Morrisson, and Ross Chattin ventured to Battlecreek, Michigan to take delivery of the new truck.
The first fireman’s banquet was held that year at “Richards on the Ridge.”
The present firehouse was built in 1968 when Ross Chattin was chief.
During the 1970’s the fire department underwent a modernization program spearheaded by Charlie Maier, Charlie Hungerford, Al Haight, and many others. With the addition of modern communications equipment and a variety of excellent training programs, the Walker Fire Department developed a high degree of firematic and first aid skills, yet still retained the characteristics of its rural beginnings. Many of its members such as Al and Janet Haight and Charlie Hungerford were accepting leadership posts in county and state firematic organizations.
The addition of an explorer post in the 1970’s has provided many well trained firefighters for our department.
The 1980’s have been highlighted by the addition of a new, well equipped rescue truck and the membership of our first woman firefighter, Mandy Blood.
Many of these people are no longer with us and all of the equipment mentioned above is no longer in service but the Walker Fire Department remains. The members are still dedicated to helping and serving the community. We work hard and we play hard and we have a good time doing it.
You are always welcome to come and join us. We always are in need of new members.