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  CommunityChief Keith West    May 26, 2018
Chief Keith West

Syracuse City's First Fire Chief

Keith C. West

Keith C. West was the first Syracuse City Fire Chief. He still lives in Syracuse with his wife Helen. They have been married for more than 60 years. In approximately 1940 they purchased one acre of ground on the Bluff for $600.00. Chief West proceeded to build their house over the next 10 months, on his days off.

Chief West was asked to be the fire chief because he was the only one with fire experience. He worked for the Navy at the Freeport Deport as a fireman. Although he had two other jobs, he decided to become the chief. He was only 22 years old when he accepted.


In order to start the fire department, Syracuse purchased their first fire truck. It was a Seagrave and it pumped 750 gallons a minute. At that time there were very few hydrants, so when there was a fire, they had to draft water out of the ditches. Syracuse had approximately 20-25 volunteers from West Point and Syracuse. West Point had an emergency set up in case they had a fire.

Chief West stated that most of their calls were brush or weed fires. He doesn't ever remember a house fire. Syracuse Fire Department had an air siren that would alert all the volunteers to come to the station if they had a fire. They didn't have a fire station in those days, they just stored their fire truck in back of the Smedley Plumbing building.

After serving as chief for one year and getting the department going, Roy Miya became chief. Chief Miya was “one of the original crew members and was interested and handy and a mechanic.”

This information was obtained during a personal interview with Chief Keith West in February 2006.


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