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Cherry Hill Battalion Chief William Stallfort Retires

Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion". ~ Jack Welch

Thirty years of completing anything is an accomplishment worthy of mention. A 30+ year career in the fire service is an amazing and rare achievement. Battalion Chief William Stallfort is serving his last tour of duty with the Cherry Hill Fire Department today after more than 30 years as a firefighter – which will be a challenge to summarize in just a few short paragraphs here.
What began in 1975 as a Junior Firefighter position, as a “way to play softball with the firefighter’s teams” led to him being hired in 1980. Today, his service can be recognized as a career that helped shape the Cherry Hill Fire Department, especially its’ technical rescue teams, and define a style that’s admired by the firefighters who call him “Chief”.
For the last 30 years, Chief Stallfort has served in an industry where the daily work offers few second chances. Many have observed that those in other careers get to make mistakes – not true with those of us in the emergency services. It’s permissible when: deliverymen; teachers; bankers and the athletes we admire so much; make mistakes. In contrast, we believe that in the fire service we need to “bat 1,000 percent” every day, on every call. Chief Stallfort’s mindset, and the ideals he instilled in those he leads, set the tone for this type of success each and every shift they come to work: Training, Plan-ahead, Training, Preparedness, and Training – basically complete readiness….with some Training to round it out.
In the past two years, Chief Stallfort redesigned the way his Platoon trained together. Members of C-Platoon have been training nearly every tour in what Chief Stallfort called; the “bread and butter” evolutions of arriving on scene, making an accurate and correct size up, placing hose lines in service and performing search and rescue and fire control. Each time there was always a little surprise or twist to keep his officers guessing. But the theory and practice of performing the simple everyday pulling hose lines and maneuvering them into service was not lost on the firefighters of C-platoon.
It was once said that the best leaders are willing to walk beside those they lead. Well, any firefighter can tell you good leadership comes from integrity – where you’re willing to do whatever you ask others to do. No one espoused these ideals more than Chief Stallfort. His firefighters were used to his participation in his own training assignments and having him right behind you on incidents big and small. You never had to question if he was there – you knew he would be. You never had to question what the assignment was – get the job done!
Chief Stallfort’s service also extends outside of Cherry Hill; serving New Jersey and our country as a member of New Jersey’s Urban Search and Rescue - Task Force One. On September 11th, 2001, Task Force One was one of the first teams pressed into service at Ground Zero. Just recently, at our own 10 year memorial service for September 11, Chief Stallfort relayed how he arrived in New York as a Team Leader in charge of about 7 or 8 people, and received an on the spot “field promotion” to Team Manager. He was placed in charge of about 60 or 70 people – and asked to lead them during the most horrific scene any of us will ever imagine. For those of us that work with him every day, it’s easy to believe how clear of a decision it was to promote him and rely on him that day.


In his personal and off-duty life, Chief Stallfort continues to prove integrity counts. He is a devoted husband; and he and his wife, Tiziana are the parents of two successful and accomplished young women. Chief Stallfort has been asked to lead department forces at many events, celebrations and services and has been a consistent team member of the Cherry Hill Firefighters softball team (remember why he joined in the first place?) helping them win multiple seasons and tournaments.
For the past 30 years, Chief Stallfort always commanded – and earned – respect. Today, he not only has our respect, but also our gratitude. Thank you Chief Stallfort, and best wishes in your retirement.