When I Grow Up: Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker follows in his father's footsteps

Rebecca Crockett
April 19, 2019 - 9:25 pm

Jimmy Walker

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Kansas City- MO - Jimmy Walker is the Deputy Chief of the Kansas City Fire Department. He started his career as a fireman nearly 24 years ago, but it's been his dream for much longer than that. Walker's father was a fireman and his hero, and he wanted to follow in his footsteps. 

"I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a firefighter. My dad was a firefighter, I grew up with it. My earliest memories are my mom taking me up to visit him," says Walker.

He says his dad worked at a station in Kansas City off of Independence Ave and Van Brunt. Walker says he remembers his mom taking a clean shirt to his dad and laying it on the front seat of the fire engine. She knew if he'd been fighting fires all day, he would need one. 

Tragedy truck in 1981, when his father was killed in a building collapse at a warehouse. Walker was just five years old, but instead of pushing him away from being a fireman, his father's death made him want to follow in his hero's footsteps that much more.  

After high school he joined the Marine Corp and went into reserves, knowing he couldn't become a firefighter until he was 19 years old.

When he got on at the department, his first Battalion Chief, had also been his father's last. Walker says many of the men he worked with had known his father. They gave him an extra hard time, and Walker says he loved every second of it.

For many fire fighters, their first time fighting a fire is nerve racking, but not for Walker. 

"I was right behind my captain, I was pulling hose, and I was just giggling, thinking, I'm actually doing this, this is so much fun," says Walker.

But there was one fire that made him question it all. Walker says it was in 2015 off of Independence Ave, and much like the fire that killed his father, a wall collapsed, killing two firefighters that day. 

Walker explains, "Digging through the debris, I remember thinking, I don't want to see what this looks like, because I was already thinking of my father at that time."

He says that was probably the lowest point in his career, but the crew that he considers family, rallied around him and helped him get through it. 

When he thinks about why it's all worth it, his mind shifts to his three children. Walker says it's the pride they have for what he's chosen to do with his life. 

His ultimate goal and the greatest award, according to Walker, is to have one of your peers look at you and say, "He's a really good fireman, he's a good fire fighter." Walker says those words don't get thrown around lightly. 

 

 

 

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