Former Arlington Fire Chief Bill Strickland dies

Remembered as a visionary, he spent 15 years with the AFD after 25 years with the Los Angeles Fire Department

  • Former Arlington Fire Chief Bill Strickland (center) poses with several former and current Arlington firefighters, including current Fire Chief Don Crowson (fourth from left). Chief Strickland died last Friday at age 84. (Photo: Arlington Fire Department)
    Former Arlington Fire Chief Bill Strickland (center) poses with several former and current Arlington firefighters, including current Fire Chief Don Crowson (fourth from left). Chief Strickland died last Friday at age 84. (Photo: Arlington Fire Department)
Ken Costlow

Former Arlington Fire Chief Bill Strickland, remembered as a visionary in the firefighting industry, died last Friday in Los Alamitos, Calif. He was 84.

Strickland joined the Arlington Fire Department as Fire Chief in 1982 after a 25-year career with the Los Angeles Fire Department. While with the LAFD, he served in multiple fire suppression assignments and as the Commander of the Fire and Arson Unit and Chief Training Officer.

During his tenure as Arlington Fire Chief, Strickland employed many new programs including a physical fitness program which included annual physicals, fitness standards, officer training programs, and vertical ventilation tactics.

He also instituted a hazardous materials response team, created an Incident Command System for the Emergency Operations Center, established mutual aid agreements with neighboring cities, and expanded intensive public safety programs.

After a 15-year as Arlington Fire Chief, Strickland retired in January 1997.

“Chief Bill Strickland was a great and honorable man who loved his family as well as the fire service,” current Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson said. “His professional example and leadership still impacts the Arlington Fire Department today.

 “Chief Strickland’s vision and commitment created opportunities for future successes that have now been realized by the Department. We were blessed to have him as our Fire Chief.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Donna and the rest of his family.”

Strickland is credited by many for bringing the Arlington Fire Department into the 21st Century.

“Bill [Strickland] led the fire department into the modern era and increased safety and protection for our residents and for the men and women who served with him,” former Arlington mayor Richard Greene said. “It’s to his credit that Arlington has one of the finest departments in the country.”

The firemen who served under Strickland have praised him online, calling him “a great positive inspiration,” and “made my career on the fire department possible.”

“He built the Arlington Fire Department into one of the most innovative and respected departments in the state of Texas and the country for that matter,” said former firefighter Terry Webb, who posted a tribute on Facebook. “No one has or will compare to him and what he has done.”

Mark Gist, who retired in 2012, recalled his last day at Station 14. The telephone rang, and a co-worker told him Chief Strickland was on the telephone.

“He called me from California to congratulate me on my retirement and wish me well,” Gist said. “He was a great person.”

He is survived by his wife, Donna; and numerous family members.

Services for Strickland are pending. Donations can be sent to Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund, PO Box 41903, Los Angeles, CA 90041.