Former Arlington Fire Chief Bill Strickland Called Visionary

Former Arlington Fire Chief Bill Strickland, 84, passed away Friday, Feb. 23 in Los Alamitos, California.

Chief Strickland served 25 years with the Los Angeles Fire Department prior to joining Arlington’s Fire Department. While in California, he served in multiple fire suppression assignments and as the Commander of the Fire and Arson Unit and Chief Training Officer.

After a 25-year career with the Los Angeles Fire Department,  Strickland was hired in 1982 as Arlington’s Fire Chief, a position he held until he retired in January 1997.

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

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

Called a visionary by many of his employees, Chief Strickland is credited with bringing the department into the 21st century.

“Bill 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,” said Richard Greene, who served as mayor from 1987 to 1997. “It’s to his credit that Arlington has one of the finest departments in the country.”

His former employees had praise for 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. He was a great person,” he said.

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

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