The passing of Retired Lieutenant William Walsh on May 11, 2012 was a sad day for the Austin Fire Museum. Mr. Walsh was one of the first retired firefighters we interviewed when organizing the Austin Fire Museum almost 10 years ago. Mr. Walsh was already well into his 80′s and suffering from the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but like many Alzheimer’s patients, if you asked the right question you could open a window into the past and a flood of information might follow. Although Mr. Walsh’s short term memory had deteriorated, he spoke of his firefighting days as they were yesterday.
As Mr. Walsh arrived at the Austin Fire Museum’s grand opening in 2005, he slowly walked through the truck bays of Central Fire Station #1 (where the museum is located) paused at one of the fire poles, and commented, “One fire, I slide down that pole so fast I landed right on top of Chief Dagger Dickerson. Man, was he hot about that!” Mr. Walsh also remarked that he’d rather fight a fire than eat a really good meal. Mr. Walsh was known as a maverick, often marching to the beat of his own drum. Mr. Walsh is usually pretty easy to spot in pictures because he’s the one wearing sneakers when the rest of the crew is wearing leather shoes. Mr. Walsh’s obituary can be seen here.