The early years:
Bucket brigades were the primary fire suppression method in the area. Buckets were hung on the rail at Goetzman’s store (Southeast corner of Gravel/Ridge) in the event of a fire in the area.
January 15, 1925 - Fire struck West Webster in the John Shoemaker block of Ridge Road, just west of Gravel road on the north side of the road. (Current 592, 594, 596, 598 Ridge Road)
At the time the closest fire department was Webster Fire Department in the Village of Webster.
According to Times-Union from Friday January 16, 1925:
The fire started shortly before 3pm and was caused by a oil stove exploding in the Shoemaker Building (Middle Arrow)
From the Shoemaker Building the fire then spread west to the Milliman Building followed by the Brewer Building to the east of the Shoemaker building.
Webster Fire apparatus arrived 10 min after initial alarm and immediately requested aid from Pumper 9 (RFD) as well as Point Pleasant and Sea Breeze Fire departments (out of Irondequoit)
Consumed in the blaze was 2 buildings containing a garage, 2 apartments, a barber shop (Shoemaker bldg.), 3 apartments (Milliman bldg.). Several cars in the Shoemaker building were saved by mechanics. The Brewer garage was saved by RFD Pumper 8. Losses were estimated at $50,000 equivalent to $663,581 in 2013
After the fire a social group called the “Social 20” took on the task of increasing fire protection in the western part of the Town of Webster. During remainder of 1925 and early in 1926 the organization held fund raising events to raise money for the beginnings of the West Webster Firemen’s Association.
May 3 1926 - West Webster Firemen’s Association holds first meeting at Maccabee Hall (575-577 Ridge Rd.)
The “Social 20” had raised about $25 and another bucket brigade from the Inspiration Point area contributed $50 to the association.
The association also received proceeds from residents of the community and additional fundraising events totaling about $500.
At this time Charter members George Herman, Louis Vogt and Dewey Welsher were tasked with investigating the purchase of a new fire truck for the department.
Charter members H.A.M. Holtz and George Brewer were directed to talk to the Town and Village of Webster officials for any further financial or general assistance they could provide.
May 24 1926 - Louis Vogt reported to membership that they would be able to purchase a Federal truck chassis for approximately $1,000 which the membership voted to purchase.
Construction then began of the first West Webster fire truck.
West Webster’s First Officers
President: Fred Barth
Vice President: Joseph Kujawa Sr.
Rec Secretary: Robert Murphy
Fin Secretary: Walter Steinorth
Treasurer George Miller
Chief Louis Vogt
Captain Edgar Williams
Drivers Earl Schlegel
First Fire Truck - Parts for the new fire truck were purchased from the Rochester Fire Department. Members used old chemical hose carts that they dismantled to build their first fire truck. Members worked in their spare time on the construction of the fire truck and the hose carts became a central appliance on the new truck
June 1926 WWFD purchased a used ladder truck from the City of Rochester for $75 and utilized the ladders parts off of this apparatus on the new Federal truck. Work was completed on the truck August 7th, 1926 and the truck was first displayed at a field day at Inspiration Point.
Fire trucks first reported fire occurred at the Herman homestead on Five Mile Line Road
1927 - 1948
Firemen purchased their first helmets, coats and boots, these articles were paid for by the members who were in turn paid back when funds became available. In May of this year the members established Tuesday nights as their drill night which is a tradition that continues today.
Each August from 1926-1956 members held a field days in order to raise money for the purchase of equipment and supplies that they needed.
July 1931 – Purchase of a Barton Pump was made to mount to the front of the 1926 Federal truck. Firemen had purchased the lot on the South side of Ridge Road on the East side of Gravel Road adjacent to the Goetzman’s Store to utilize for building a firehouse.
November 1932 – Ladies auxiliary established
December 5 1933 – First fire district elections held and first commissioners elected.
September 1934 – Firemen’s association purchases building at the Southeast corner of Ridge/Gravel from Charles Goetzman for $5,000. This building was next to the vacant lot that they bought previously in 1931 and housed the fire equipment of the West Webster Fire District until 1966. The building remained in the possession of the Firemen’s association until 2007.
1937 – Members received a donation from a resident on Forest Lawn Dr. of a Lincoln automobile chassis which they then used as a first-aid emergency car. This vehicle was the first of its kind outside of the City of Rochester and answered calls in Webster, Penfield, and Ontario. The Town of Webster purchased a resuscitator for the rig and provided the department with oxygen bottles.
May 21, 1939 – The department faced what was up to this point its biggest fire since its inception. The fire at Schneider’s Ice House, which was located on Lake Road between Lake Ontario and the Irondequoit Bay was destroyed. The ice house was large enough to hold 60,000 tons of ice and was filled with ice that was cut from the Irondequoit Bay. The loss was estimated at $40,000.
November 1948 – The Firemen’s association purchased 7 acres of property on the west side of Gravel Road which a portion was sold off for construction of a U.S. Post Office and a portion was given to the Fire District in 1966 to construct a new fire station. The remainder of the property is still in the possession of the Firemen’s Association.
1952 – The firemen purchased radio equipment including a base station to place in the firehouse in order to receive calls from the City of Rochester Fire Dispatcher. Prior to this residents of West Webster would have to dial the operator who and give them the address of the emergency. The operator would then call a predetermined member who would activate the fire siren on the firehouse notifying the members that a call has come in.
In late 1952 the members of the West Webster purchased and received their first self-contained breathing apparatus for use in fighting fires.
Early 1953 – Running a little short on space in their firehouse, which housed the 1935 pumper, 1940 Ford pumper, 1953 Ford pumper and the 1937 Lincoln emergency truck, plans were discussed to look at putting an addition on the current firehouse or the possibility of building a new firehouse.
December 1955, Firemen purchased a 1956 Chevrolet Suburban which was equipped by the firemen to transport injured and sick persons. This vehicle was turned over to the fire district and served the Webster/Penfield area residents.
In late 1957, early 1958 the firemen voted for and purchased a 1958 Ford pumper with a Seagrave body. This pumper came equipped with a 750 gallon per minute pump and its total cost was about $14.000. At the same point the line office expanded their ranks to 12 members, Chief, Assistant Chief, four Captains and six Lieutenants. That remained that way until 1975 when the Captains and Lieutenants were each set to five which they remain at now. The members also voted to order home radio receivers for all of the line officers to get better responses from them.
December 1957 – Plans for a new addition to the firehouse began adding space for up to four vehicles, a radio room, and facilities for men and women. The cost of this addition was about $15,000, and rent was paid to the association by the fire district of $2,000 a year. Call totals for this year were 54 fires, 11 still alarms, 6 emergency runs, and 10 mutual aid runs (assisting neighboring fire departments).
March 1963 – A vote was held and firemen decided to purchase a new one-ton rated 4 wheel drive Dodge fire truck. The truck had a 500 gallon per minute front-end pump and an American body. The cost of this vehicle was about $9,000.
August 1963 – The Firemen’s association purchased a Pontiac ambulance with a Superior body for about $9,000. This too was turned over to the fire district for use.
September 1964 – Association donated the land to the fire district for construction of a new fire station. The land was on the west side of Gravel Road just south of Ridge Road and is the current location of our Station 1.
July 1965 – A 10 person fire police unit established of active members of the department.
May 1967 – After a number of calls along the Irondequoit Bay as well as in the marsh area at the south end of the bay it was determined that West Webster could benefit from the purchase of a boat. At this time the firemen voted and approved the purchase of a Boston Whaler 11 with a 10 horsepower motor.
July 1968 – Membership votes to purchase a 1968 Cadillac Ambulance to replace the Chevrolet Suburban. The ambulance had a Superior body and was equipped to handle requests for emergency medical assistance throughout our district. The ambulance was purchased for $12,000 and then turned over to the fire district. The Chevrolet was then turned into a Rescue/Salvage Truck.
September 1973 – To replace the 1964 Pontiac ambulance the members voted to purchase a 1974 Cadillac ambulance for the price of about $18,000.
May 1974 – What is determined to be one of the largest fires to date in department history occurs. Wednesday May 15th a large fire occurred at the site of the Webster Manor apartments on Empire Boulevard. The apartments were under construction at the time of the fire which was assisted by strong winds and destroyed 48 apartments. West Webster received aid from Webster, Union Hill, and the Point Pleasant Fire Departments. Ridge Culver and Sea Breeze filled in to our station during the fire.
May 23, 1976 – West Webster Volunteer Firemen’s Association celebrated our 50th anniversary.
Early 1977 – The City of Buffalo was buried under a record snow fall which debilitated the city. On February 2nd the call went out for all available 4 wheel drive pumpers to come to assist the City of Buffalo Fire Department firehouses with calls. West Webster was one of the companies that responded to that call for assistance. Sending our 4 wheel drive grass fire truck and four members to Buffalo to assist at the quarters of Engine 32/Truck 5 at Swan and Seneca Streets in Buffalo. The truck stayed in Buffalo until Wednesday February 9th and two different relief crews were sent up to assist the firefighters in Buffalo. During their time there the members ran 24 EMS calls, 20 Engine calls and 15 ladder calls with the members of Engine 32/Truck 5.
April 1977 – The Association bought back the 1953 Ford Pumper from the district to use as an explorer post training tool. The truck was used to assist in training our explorers until 1990 when it was sold as surplus.
April 1978 – Members from the association took delivery of a new 1978 Horton Ambulance. The ambulance had a one-ton Chevrolet Chassis with an all-aluminum modular body. This ambulance replaced the 1969 Cadillac which was then sold to the Alton Fire Department in Wayne County.
December 1981 – At about 7:30 on December 3rd, 1981 West Webster received a call reporting a fire in the Hill Haven Nursing Home on Empire Boulevard. The fire broke out in an upstairs lounge and West Webster, Laurelton, and Webster Fire Departments all responded according to a pre-arranged plan. Fire Departments from all over the Northeast section of Monroe County were alerted of the event and Ambulance agencies responded in force to assist with the treatment of potential victims. Busses were utilized to transport the residents of Hill Haven to the Bayview YMCA on Bay Road. As potentially dangerous as this situation was there were no serious or fatal injuries.
November 1985 – The purchase of another new ambulance this one a 1985 Ford Road Rescue which it turned over to the Fire District. The new 1985 Ford was purchased to replace the 1974 Cadillac which was turned back over to the Firemen’s Association.
Early 1986 – Chief Al Sienkiewicz took the helm of the department and one of his first priorities was providing the membership with a written set of procedures to follow. Also early in the year we responded to two events on the Irondequoit Bay in the same night. That night several snowmobilers went through the ice off of Inspiration Point, one of the snowmobilers succeeded in getting himself out and was able to call for assistance. Responders were able to rescue the remainder of his party upon arrival. The second event occurred a short time later where another set of snowmobilers went thru the ice in the middle of the bay. Unfortunately the outcome of this event was not as successful as the previous one and all the victims passed from their injuries and the elements. This was a clear sign to West Webster membership in the importance of obtaining greater training in the topic of Ice Water Rescue.
April 1986 – At about 7:20 am West Webster experienced another fire at the Hill Haven Nursing Home although this one was on a much smaller scale than the previous one. In this event over 20 departments responded and assisted in evacuating 250 residents from the nursing home. The evacuation was due to a fire in a 30 gallon trash can and as a result 6 people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
April 1987 – Firefighter Richard Spalty was honored at the Northern Central NYVFA Convention as their firefighter of the year. Rick won this honor for his attempted rescue of a resident of a house fire on Five Mile Line Road in 1986. April also brought a return to Kidd Castle on Bay Road. A long vacant historic house which had become a hangout for teens that often vandalized and started fires inside.
June 1990 – The membership voted to donate the 1974 Cadillac Ambulance to the museum at the Firemen’s Home in Hudson, New York. The ambulance is still on display today along with many other pieces of apparatus from around the state.
March 1991 – The County of Monroe was disrupted by a sudden and unexpected ice storm. It started the evening of Sunday March 4th and kept firefighters busy thru Friday March 8th. In this time West Webster responded to over 1000 calls for service, approximately 800 calls were for water problems or flooding, there were 95 fire calls as well as 60 medical calls. During this time we received mutual aid from the following fire departments: Clarence Center (Erie County), Skaneateles (Onondaga County), Fair Haven (Cayuga County), Phelps (Ontario County), Port Gibson (Ontario County), Wales Center (Erie County), and West Falls (Erie County). During this trying time many of our firefighters spent long hours in our stations some spending days on end and sleeping in bunk rooms or on the apparatus bay floor. Our ladies auxiliary prepared over 75 meals three times a day during that time period.
October 1992 – The association took delivery the purchase of a new ambulance from Mobile Medical.
July 1996 – Our members took possession of new Automated External Defibrillators and began training on them before deploying them onto the ambulances and first response equipment. Since bringing them on they have been responsible for many CPR “saves”.
August 1996 – Members received a call for a possible fire at the Budget Hotel on Empire Boulevard across from the Sony Movie Theater. The fire was reported in the middle of the night which severely damaged the structure which was later demolished. Unfortunately during the fire an occupant of the hotel lost his life. Several other occupants were successfully rescued from the structure.
May 1997 – There was a serious fire at Fargo Collision on Ridge Road (site of current Ford Dealership). The job of firefighters was made more difficult in this situation by the design of the building and due to an early roof collapse. This was one of the first times that we had successfully used “Class B” foam at a structure fire.
September 1997 – Fire and EMS units responded to a call for someone overcome by fumes on Empire Boulevard near the District border. Upon arrival they realized that the situation was more serious then they initially believed. It was discovered that the fumes were due to a mixture of chemicals and a Haz-Mat was declared. The Monroe County Hazmat Team handled the chemicals but the first responding ambulance had to be quarantined for several days as a result of the incident.
January 1998 – West Webster was once again called on to respond to another part of the state and assist local firefighters. This time our members were deployed to Northern New York. Six members took Pumper 124 and grass fire 1217 to St Lawrence County and spent almost a full week assisting firefighters in that area.
January 1999 – West Webster responded to Creek Hill Apartments on Empire Boulevard what they found when they arrived was several of the complex’s roofs were collapsing. The entire complex was evacuated while repairs were made. This wasn’t the first time that we had an incident at the Creek Hill Apartments, in the late 80’s or early 90’s there was a fire at the location.
March 1999 – The first week of March held another storm for us this year. This time on March 4th thru March 7th there was a blizzard that dropped about 43 inches of snow forcing the closing of many major roadways. During this week many of our members slept at firehouses and responded to many calls.
January 2000 – Early 2000 started out with two working fires within a 24 hour time span. The first being a fire in a crawl space on Adams Road followed the next morning by a basement fire on Lake Road. By the end of the month the members had responded to 5 working fires.
May 2001 – West Webster celebrated our 75th anniversary.
November 2001 – Delivery was taken of the new 1219 which was built on a Freightliner chassis.