A Veteran New England Fireman.
Ex-Chief George S. Willis of Pittsfield, Mass., whose portrait we print this week, was born at Pittsfield July 25, 1847. He was a fireman from the start, serving as a torch-boy at the age of twelve years. He later filled the positions of assistant and foreman, and was elected assistant engineer when twenty years old. He later became chief, and when he resigned that position at the age of forty had been connected with the department as engineer for twenty years. Chief Willis comes from old fire stock. His grandfather, General Nathan Willis, and bis father, Colonel G. W. S. Willis, bought the first hand engines, truck, etc. Both served as engineers and were instrumental in putting in the water-works. Chief Willis and his father bought the first steam fire engines. The former added to the department while chief the Gamewell fire alarm, one steam fire engine and a protective company, built a new house, and changed the style of uniform from the old red shirt to the standard blue.
To Chief Willis belongs very much of the credit for the present prosperous condition of the Massachusetts State Association. Up to the year 1885 the association knew not where to lay its head, but in that year thirty of the members met, agreed that the affairs of the association were in a bad state, elected new officers, with Chief Snow of Middleboro as president, and accepted Chief Willis’ invitation to hold the next annual meeting at Pittsfield. At that meeting the committee on investigation reported a deficiency of about $700, but on motion of Chief Davol of Fall River the members put their hands into their pockets, and when the meeting adjourned the association was out of debt.
Chief Willis was president of the association in 1886 and 1887. He was one of its incorporators and has always been on the legislative committee. He resigned the position of chief of the Pitts: eld department in 1887 to form the C. Callahan Co. of Boston, but is still’a member of Engine Company No. 2 of Pittsfield.