Webster Volunteer Fire Department Incorporated

First Responders | Webster Volunteer Fire Department Incorporated

North East Joint Fire District

Esther Dunn ended her 1970 history of the Webster Volunteer Fire Department Incorporated (WVFDI) with the story of a brand-new firehouse constructed on the site of the old one on South Avenue.  Construction for the WVFDI in the 1970s continued at a steady pace, as time and funds raised allowed, to remodel and update the Firemen’s Exempt Building (completed in 1960), and to expand the Firemen’s Field by 17 acres. The Department hired its first Fire Marshall to inspect local businesses and determine the cause of fires.  Major fires of the 1970s included the LeFrois Food Plant, Candy Kitchen, Russell B Mason Co., Webster Basket Co., and Piper Industries.  A violent windstorm leveled several stands in Firemen’s Field (repaired quickly, of course, by firefighters themselves).  A snorkel purchase and New York’s Blue Light Law made emergency situations safer for firefighters.

WVFDI celebrated its 75th anniversary in June 1981, with a Diamond Jubilee party for the community, but there were challenges for this decade too.  Local drownings led to scuba search, rescue, and recovery training for local fire association members.  The 1982 accident at Ginna led to the installation of a mega-siren on South Ave.  Land was purchased in 1986 from the Webster Central School District to accommodate increased carnival parking needs. Also that year, new code regulations streamlined calls and service just in time, as calls for service from the WVFDI had increased from 410 to 623 in two years, likely contributing to its first computer purchase. In 1987, consolidation of the East and West fire districts was discussed (it did not happen). In 1988, WVFDI took over the Explorer post (formerly run by Union Hill) and acquired its first video camera.  At the end of the 1980s, Past Chief Joseph Enderlin retired; Station #1 on South Ave would be named in his honor.

The 1990s began with a non-consolidation report for fire districts, along with a suggestion for a town-wide EMS district.  NYS passed a law providing retirement pay for volunteer firefighters.  The March 1991 ice storm kept firemen busy as they answered over 700 storm-related calls for service, bringing that year’s total to 1446 calls.  WVFA was one of the few fire departments with a waiting list for volunteers in 1992, the same year a Police Department background check was instituted.  The nineties saw increased discussion of the need for a recognition program for service in the Fire Department.  Program proposals by WVFDI saw defeat by referendum and proposals by village deemed inadequate by the Department, so firemen developed their own Civilian Service and Fireman of the Month awards.  Meantime, calls continued to increase, many of them mutual aid, including a Seabreeze fire in June 1994 and a boating accident with serious injury off Hedges in July.  Despite local efforts, NYS continued to take no action on COLAs for fire/ambulance personnel permanently disabled on the job.  WVFDI celebrated its 90th anniversary in 1996.  In 1998, thermal imaging equipment was purchased and the Explorer post celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Rapid changes in NYS law, increases in the need for service, and a new firehouse to accommodate that need, were the hallmarks of the new millennium.  Following the World Trade Center Tragedy in 2001, seventeen members of the WVFDI traveled to NYC in December for the 911 memorial event. The Department’s annual donation to the Finger Lakes Burn Association was an especially meaningful one that year.  Donations to WVFDI became tax-deductible, firefighters’ insurance benefit was increased, and the first self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighters were purchased.  The Department further cemented its ties with the community in 2003 by sending a donation towards the purchase of the clock in Veteran’s Park and by organizing the first Parade of Lights during the Webster Village White Christmas festivities (an annual tradition maintained as of this writing).

The next ten years saw the 100th Anniversary of the WVFDI in 2006, the opening of its third station (the North Station) in 2015, water rescues in 2011 and 2016, assistance at the 12/24/2012 Christmas Eve ambush of first responders, and a very successful decade-long recruitment program that yielded over 100 recruits for the Association. Ongoing concern about fire and ambulance service in Webster’s fast-growing North East area would occupy a great deal of the WVFDI’s attention through the 2000s and into the next decade as well.  The very busy Department needed to go about its business helping people, so looked to reorganization as a Fire District.  On October 5, 2004, residents of North East Webster, North East Penfield, and Webster Village voted to consolidate as the North East Joint Fire District.


  • Esther A. Dunn, WEBSTER…Through the Years (Webster Town Board, 1971)
  • Robert Gatherwood, A Brief History of the Webster Fire Department
  • Judy A. Klem and Peter G. Klem III, The Webster Volunteer Fire Department, 1906-2006
  • North East Joint Fire District Website

Thanks to:

  • Erika Bradford and David LaRue, WVFAI officers, for Association information

February, 2019