Toy Volunteers
By Melissa Lerma
The Toy Program would like to acknowledge periodically a special volunteer that has given years of dedication toward the success of the San Francisco Fire Fighters Toy Program. This month, we would like to recognize Bill Bassett. Bill is a great retired guy to get to know. He’s got the greatest disposition and you smile when you see him. Bill has graciously offered to share some thoughts about himself and the Toy Program to try to recruit more volunteers to come down to Old 30.

Bill came into the department back in 1949 - WOW!!! Bill was first assigned as a probie to St. 15 when it was located at the currentsite of St. 38 on California. After that, he worked on a unit called the Utility Squad; this eventually turned into Rescue 2. They were at Old 4 located at the current St. 1 location. This is really where the Toy Program started - with a few firemen repairing broken bikes. Eventually Bill made his way to St. 10, where he really enjoyed a large portion of his career. For fifteen years Bill was a jakey there enjoying his career and off-duty passions of hunting, fishing and diving. While he was at St. 10 he initiated the Dive Team and developed and presented this idea to the current Chief Murray.

Bill decided to take the Lieutenants test and his career took off. He was a Lieutenant for four years; took the captains test and went out for another four years and BAM - the BC’s test and then a field promotion to AC at Division 1. Bill’s deep commitment to the San

Francisco Fire Department is quite a role model for all. He really learned the job and took that valuable experience on his career path.

Bill retired in 1982 and enjoyed his first few years of retirement with his own projects and hobbies. Bill eventually made his way back to the Toy Program and has been there ever since. Bill works closely with Uncle Joe and they do most of the repair and building projects that are needed around the Toys. Bill is incredibly generous with his time throughout the entire year. About every three or four weeks, Bill makes his phone calls and rallies the retired guys to come down and do the tasks that keep the program and building up and running. In addition, Bill organizes the super-secret abalone lunch, but you have to know the secret password (volunteer) to get an invite!!!

I asked Bill what he liked best about the Toy Program. “The camaraderie, the lunches and different firehouses visiting, firehouse meals. Everyone gets to sit around at lunch and tell a bunch of fibs”.

If you are a retired guy and remember old friends like Bill, come down to the Toys and see your buddies. We have a great group of retired firefighters but we could always use more help! You are guaranteed a few good laughs and for sure a great lunch. Call anytime if you have questions.


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