William C. Richmond, Fire Commissioner
City of Philadelphia 1984-1988

William C. Richmond was Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department from 1984-1988.  Commissioner Richmond spent 36 years in public service, beginning his career with the Philadelphia Police Department in 1952.  He responded to the Berg Explosion in 1954, a two-alarm chemical tank explosion that killed 10 firefighters and injured many more firefighters and police officers.  He transported injured firefighters in his police van.

This began his interest in firefighting and in 1960 he transferred into the PFD.   Following his training, he was assigned to Engine 33.  Wanting more experience he soon transferred to Engine Company #2, the city’s most active station and drove Engine 2’s pumper as they raced to the Fretz Fire.

He progressed through the department ranks being promoted to Lieutenant and then Captain. He worked at the Fire Academy as an instructor and then moved on to Ladder 14.  He then transferred to the Research and Planning Unit where he helped develop the polycarbonate helmet a revolutionary design for its time.  Commissioner Richmond felt a strong connection to Fireman’s Hall Museum stating early in his tenure as Commissioner, “I am a firm believer in the history and traditions of the Philadelphia Fire Department, and for any movement that will preserve them.  We must maintain a close association with the past, and we will do what we can to foster the concept of the “Old” as it is preserved for future generations in FIREMAN’S HALL.”

Commissioner Richmond passed away on June 25, 2018. In keeping with his love of the history of the PFD several donors have come together to support this new digital web gallery which will rotate images from the archives from Fireman’s Hall Museum. It will be known as the William C. Richmond Gallery.

This project is made possible by the support of Marrazzo/Greenwood family.


Fire Prevention was always an important part of the PFD. Here Engine 16 gets the message out with the help of WCAU TV 10, Sally Starr and Gene London in the late 1950s or early 1960s.  Photographs from the Robert Burns collection.


On September 26, 1967, Mayor James H. J. Tate dedicated the new Philadelphia Fire Department Fire Museum, joined by other city officials, fire department members and friends.  The museum occupied the space which formerly housed Engine 8, now at Fourth and Arch Street.  Anticipating the 100th anniversary of the Philadelphia Fire Department as well as the upcoming Bicentennial of the United States the Philadelphia Fire Department began to collect the documents and artifacts both large and small that reflected the PFD’s long history. The 1902 firehouse situated just a few yards north of Elfreth’s Alley was ideally situated for the many visitors they hoped to draw.


10th Battalion A Platoon Baseball Team 1923