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Short History of the Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District

The Town of Hamlin has been in a relatively unique position of having three separate fire districts within its boarders. This situation evolved from the history of the town and is covered elsewhere in the histories of each department.

The Hamlin Fire District, the Morton Fire District, and the Walker Fire District operated as three separate agencies and their operational personnel, the respective fire departments, had good relations at the operating level. But there were stressors. The smaller budgets, increased pressure for insurance coverage and the costs related to that, staffing, and fluctuating tax revenue effected all three districts. On the department level, decreased numbers of volunteers, increased call volume and the overall staffing requirements in fire officers and civil positions required each department to suffer.

The idea of consolidating the three districts had been around for some time, but an effort by New York State to streamline and simplify government triggered action. A study was produced that examined the benefits and problems that would result from a consolidation and presented to each district commission. After further study and discussions, a joint Hamlin Fire District-Morton Fire District-Walker Fire District meeting was held on November 14, 2012 and a plan of consolidation was approved.

The plan identified March 1, 2013 as the official creation date of the Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District. The original three fire districts ceased to exist on that date, but the three fire departments would continue to provide personnel to the combined district as before. The increased stability in tax revenue and increased savings from consolidating insurance policies has increased the budget the district commissioners oversee. 

A more visible impact has been on staffing. Prior to the consolidation each of the three districts had five commissioners (15 total), three chief officers (9 total), a secretary (3 total), a treasurer (3 total), legal council (3 total), for a total of thirty three positions. Post consolidation there were a total of five commissioners, three chief officers, a single secretary, a single treasurer, and a single lawyer for a total of eleven positions. 

The impact of the consolidation on equipment has been dramatic. Prior to consolidation each of the three districts operated with a minimum of two engines, an EMS squad, a tanker, and a rescue truck. Some of these duties were combined into a rescue engine or tanker pumper and some of these trucks were past their operational prime. Each district had different bunker gear and SCBA’s based mainly on what their budget could afford when it was needed. Since consolidation this has changed. The bunker gear and SCBA’s are all the same brand which increased flexibility and eases training. A plan for what trucks should be in each of the three stations and when then need to be replaced has been created. From a pre consolidation number of six engines in the Town of Hamlin, the district now has four. These four are the newest and most efficient of the bunch. Before consolidation there were two heavy rescue trucks in Hamlin with all the hydraulic tools and costs associated with them, now there is one heavy rescue. Two of the three pre consolidation EMS squads have been totally replaced and the third one was refurbished to continue its service life. The cost reduction of decreased maintenance and insurance for the tax payers.

The community has benefitted from the consolidation of personnel at the emergency operation level. Prior to consolidation an emergency call in Hamlin would only be received by Hamlin firefighters. If Hamlin couldn’t muster enough members to answer the call then, after precious time was lost, would the call be mutual aided to Morton or Walker who had no idea that Hamlin even had the initial call. Now calls are dispatched to all the members of the Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District. This not only allows a truck and crew from Station Two to cover a call in Station Three’s area, but also allows firefighters from any station to crew up whichever truck is taking the call regardless of where that firefighter hangs his bunker gear. 

In the end our customers (and our neighbors) don’t care what number is on the red truck bringing help, they just want it there quickly, and if that increased service comes at a lower cost then so much the better.

© 2022 Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District