One of Virginia's first Black firefighters gets 93rd birthday surprise

RFD William Willis 93rd Birthday 2.jpg
Posted at 4:40 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 16:40:42-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond firefighters surprised one of their own Wednesday with a drive-by celebration for his 93rd birthday.

William “Bill” Willis joined the Richmond Fire Department (RFD) in 1955, and was assigned to Engine Company No. 9.

RFD said this was the first company in Virginia to have Black firefighters.

Willis retired in the early 1960s, citing the segregation and lack of promotion opportunities.

The special surprise served as not only a celebration of his birthday, but also the work he did for the department and the community.

"William helped paved the path for future firefighters and we thank him for his service! Happy Birthday!" said RFD in a post on their Facebook.