First Fairfax County Chief Fire Marshal and Fire Administrator Passes Away

It is with great sadness that the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department announce the passing of retired Fire Administrator, and first Chief Fire Marshal, Willis H. “Bill” Burton, Jr. Chief Burton passed away peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by family, on Sunday, January 9 at the age of 91.

Chief Burton began his firefighting career as a volunteer at the Herndon Volunteer Fire Department. He was hired by Fairfax County on July 1, 1953, as the first Chief Fire Marshal for the newly established Office of the Fire Marshal. He served in that capacity until his appointment as Fire Administrator in 1963. Fire Administrator is comparable to a present-day Fire Chief.

During his tenure, his major accomplishments included the purchasing of the first county owned fire apparatus, a 1963 Maxim ladder truck, construction of the Fire Training Center (now the Academy), graduating the first formal recruit class (1967), and formulating a bond referendum to build seven fire stations, pay off the loan on Station 25 and adding two classrooms to the academy. He left the department in 1971.

Thank you, Chief Burton, for your visionary leadership during a time of monumental growth and change in the department and Fairfax County.