Former Philadelphia Fire Commissioner William Richmond dead at 86

Pat Loeb
June 27, 2018 - 2:44 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Former Philadelphia Fire Commissioner William Richmond has died. His family said he passed away peacefully Monday night at the age of 86. They did not give a cause. 

Richmond served 28 years in the fire department but will mostly be remembered for one day: May 13, 1985 — the day 11 people died and three blocks of houses burned to the ground when the city dropped a bomb on a house occupied by the group MOVE and let the resulting fire burn.

"I'm not trying to make excuses or cop a plea," Richmond said of the incident in 2015 interview. "We were never full partners in this. And in the end, it turned out there was a lot of information that was not shared."

Richmond said he was haunted by the outcome.

"Every Saturday Mass I say a prayer for those kids," he said.

Thinking back on the MOVE bombing also made him angry.

"The police were supposed to pick up the kids on the weekend, and they would be out of the place," he said. "They should not have gone forward with the operation Monday morning with the knowledge the kids were not removed."

Richmond retired three years later, worked as a consultant, and wrote a book. 

He is survived by his wife and daughter. Services are scheduled for Saturday.