Then Larkspur Assistant Fire Chief Bill Lellis relaxing in a recliner after a training burn at the old Hutchinson Quarry in east Larkspur in the late 1970's. This photo would end up in one of Bill's shows. The buildings were being removed in preparation for the Larkspur Landing Shopping Center development.
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled." - Plutarch
I love photography, and have taken tens of thousands of fire service photos over the past 39 years. Many of these are now proving very valuable in both remembering and documenting our shared history. One of my early Fire Chiefs had inspired my long-time interest in taking pictures - William Lellis of Larkspur FD. Bill for many years put together an annual "slide show" for the Larkspur Association of Volunteer Firefighters annual installation dinner.
They were typically very funny, poking fun at our FD. For example, one year he used a live monkey from the San Francisco zoo, dressing it up as a fire chief complete with helmet and structure fire coat, holding a two-way radio. A friend of Bill's narrated the program acting as the monkey, shown commanding a fire scene among other activities. We laughed so hard our stomachs hurt...
The first "Bill" show I saw was in the late 1970's at what was then called "The Italian Athletic Club" in downtown Larkspur. It never occurred to me to wonder who had inspired Bill's interest in photography until attending another dinner. The annual Marin County Fire Chiefs Installation Dinner often includes special guests. California State Fire Marshal Ronny Coleman was invited to one of the events in the 1990's, held in Corte Madera. During the program portion, Bill Lellis rose and thanked Ronny for helping to inspire him in photography in the 1960's, when Bill attended the Fresno Fire Training Workshops where Ronny was an instructor.
I had no idea of this connection, but now it all made sense. I learned that Ronny had a huge collection of photographs that continues to grow every year to this day. Today all three of us continue to take and share photos. As they say - "The fire service is a small world...", thanks Bill and Ron! - Tom Forster
Our Blog announces new site content, and gives the context of the topic and it's relationship to fire service history. Written by Tom Forster.