Sausalito Fire Department
Smoke Inhalation While Fighting Structure Fire
"Walter A. Cook, chief of the Sausalito Fire Department since June 2nd, 1922, was overcome by smoke while fighting a fire in the basement of the George W. Morton home on Lower Crescent Avenue on March 7, 1924.
Chief Cook was working in a remote corner of the basement, far ahead of the other firemen, when he cried out and fell. He was immediately carried outside by firemen Charles Loriano and Paul Ruff. Drs. W. H. Sullivan and C. A. Larson were sent for and worked on him without success. He was declared dead on the scene.
Prior to coming to Sausalito, Chief Cook was a San Francisco fireman for twenty-five years, retiring on March Ist, 1922, as a battalion chief. He was twice decorated for bravery while on duly in San Francisco. That he was well thought of in San Francisco Is evidenced by the statement of Fire Chief Thomas R. Murphy of SFFD, who stated that "Cook was one of the best men the San Francisco fire department ever had.”
Flags throughout the town were at half-mast for a day in honor of the deceased chief. The Sausalito News reported that “…no one in town feels it as badly as the fire boys who slated that the chief was more than a leader, that he was a regular father to them...” On several occasions throughout his term he enjoyed preparing meals for the firemen, and his men said that on the night of his death he prepared “…one of the finest meals they had ever tasted…”
On the day of his death the chief was reported to be in good health and fine spirits. He appeared in a new uniform and was rejoicing over his appointment the prior week as Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal for the northern district of California. Although the duties of his new office would have taken him all over the northern part of the stste, he had planned to make his headquarters In Sausalito.
Steve Wetzler, D. T. Madden. AI Gales and Manuel Ignacio circulated through the business district of the town and raised $40.50 for a floral piece made in the shape of a broken wheel, and bearing the words 'From the People of Sausalito to Our Chief.'
Chief Cook was the father of three daughters, Mary, Barbara and Gladys, and brother of John. Robert, George. Louis, and Daniel Cook. Mrs. Sallie E, Armstrong and Mrs. F. Redmond. The deceased chief was buried with the full honors of the San Francisco fire department under the direction of Fire Chief Murphy. The members of the local fire department expressed their thanks to A. Malone, S. G. Ratto, William McCarthy, Gordon Sandstrom, Ernest Sandstrom, Paul Ruff, and all others who assisted at the fire whose names could not be determined."