May 19 2019

Obituary: Retired Burlington Fire Chief and WWII Veteran Herbert W. Crawford, 96


A long serving retired Burlington Fire Chief and a Veteran of World War II has passed away.

Herbert W. Crawford, Burlington’s Fire Chief for 30 years, passed away on Thursday May 16, 2019 at the Sawtelle Family Hospice House. He was 96 years old.  

According to his obituary by Sullivan Funeral Home, Herb was born in Woburn in 1923.  He grew up on Willow Street and attended Woburn Junior High School and then graduated from Somerville Vocational High School.

His family settled in Burlington in 1942 where they owned and operated Crawford Farm which was situated where Beacon Village and Route 128 are now located.  He grew up working the farm along with his parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle, siblings, and cousins.

He enlisted in the Army to fight in World War II and was a member of the 86th Quartermaster Company. During his service he was the recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Ribbon, and Army of the Occupation Medal.

Herb returned from the war and went back to the farm to work. He also wanted to help protect his community and by 1947 he was one of many residents who made up the Burlington Volunteer Fire Department. In 1953 he was hired as a full time firefighter and in 1955 he was named Fire Chief, a position he would hold for 30 years. During those years, Burlington was one of the fastest growing communities in Massachusetts and Chief Crawford constantly advocated to add more firefighters and fire apparatus, an additional fire station, and better safety equipment.  

“He always had his fighters safety and Burlington’s residents wellbeing at the forefront of every decision he made,” his obituary reads. “He laid the foundation and set high goals for his predecessors that followed him.”

He was also a member of the Fire Chief Association.

“Herb was a vital part of Burlington’s community for over 76 years,” his obituary states. “He had an incredible memory and could tell stories and share the town’s history even in his 90’s. The town‘s biographer, Ed Fogelberg, and the Historical Commission regularly went to Herb for historical information.”  

Herb was also part of a BCAT show discussing Burlington’s history.  He was a member of Burlington’s Cemetery Commission. He was a member of the Mount Horeb Lodge of Masons in Woburn and served as their Master in 1957.  He was also a member of the Shriners.

“He could be seen all over town where everyone simply called him ‘Chief,’” his obituary says. “He loved summer vacations spent with family on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. His retirement years were spent helping raise his grandchildren and attending all their sports, activities, and school events. The Crawford family has lost their patriarch, the Burlington Fire Department has lost their founder, and Burlington has lost a great man who put his heart and soul into making Burlington such a wonderful place to live.”

Click here to read his full obituary.


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