R.I.P. Bob Benker - May 3, 1945 - August 21, 2020
Bob Benker was one of the founding fathers of the Lockwood Fire district and was instrumental in coordinating with CDF (now CAL FIRE) and county agencies to insure this small upcountry area had first responders available. Bob became the Fire Chief around 1982 retaining that position for over 20 years and trained many who went on to fire careers. Even as he retired, he stayed on as Assistant Chief for a few more years.
Bob also owned the Volcano Gallery and a renowned furniture and piano refinishing business Benker's Refinishing. More about Bob can be found by clicking Daneri's Morturary .
Bob's contagious laughter will live on with all those that heard that laugh.
What's with the name "Lockwood"? Mr. Lockwood arrived from England in the 1860's and bought lots of property in what is now Volcano. The original name was Lockwood Junction, which was a hotel and stage stop on Fiddletown Road. The photo was taken in the early 1900's of the original Lockwood Station. People traveled from Carson City, Nevada, over the Carson Pass by stagecoach which stopped at Lockwood Junction. Travelers continued by stagecoach to Sloughouse where they would take a train to Sacramento then a boat to San Francisco. As one can imagine, this trip was quite long and not very comfortable. When the fire department began, members decided to call it Lockwood Fire in memory of the original stage stop that served many.
Lockwood Fire began with a handful of residents in the mid 70's that believed in the importance of having a fire department. The main players were Bob Benker (Chief for many years), John Grandy (Bank Manager), Dave Davidson (retired CHP), John Glidden, Carl Coleman (first Fire Chief), Eli Gruber, Ed Babbitt, Tom and Ann Sharkey, Pete Bell and Inta Kemperman who did much of the research as to how to begin. CDF Jim Simmons and CDF Todd Davis assisted with planning the department. There were many more and we apologize if your name does not appear here. Please contact us if you have more information.
By 1981 Lockwood became an official fire department. Carl Coleman forwarded the paperwork to the Secretary of State which needed a name and address. Carl submitted his address and became the first Fire Chief with five firefighters who were trained by CDF in Ione.
CDF (California Dept. of Forestry now called CAL FIRE) held an EMT class and three women, Mable Loomis, Pat Benker, Elli Grandy and one gentleman, Eli Gruber were instrumental in getting medical services started as part of the fire department. These women were trained as the departments first EMT's. The first "emergency vehicle" was a used gold Pontiac Grand Prix purchased and repaired by Bill Simms. He also painted the vehicle white and added sirens and lights., The vehicle was nicknamed Moby Dick. Whomever was "on duty" took the station wagon home so they could respond in the "official" vehicle. The car was low to the ground and when Mabel Loomis drove it, the muffler would often fall off. The back roads were especially harsh on the low Pontiac. One year the department issued an award to Mabel that consisted of an old muffler mounted on a board. She became known as Capable Able Mabel. In the late 1990's the first water tender purchased by Lockwood was nickamed "Mabel" and had her name painted on the side
They begged and borrowed for several years to keep the fire department going. It existed solely on donations. There was no assessment at that time, just donations via a volunteer $35 per year. In 1986 a yearly tax assessment fee of $35 per parcel was approved. In the early 2000's the tax assessment was increased by voters to $70 for improved parcels and $35 fo unimproved parcels per year and is still in place. To this day, the lifeblood of this small fire department is the community it serves.