Ronny J. Coleman, a revered nationally-recognized fire service leader for half a century, who served as California State Fire Marshal and as the chair of the CSFA Volunteer Committee, passed away Sept. 19 in Sacramento. Chief Coleman had been the Fire Chief of the City of Fullerton Fire Department when he was appointed in 1992 by Governor Pete Wilson to the position of State Fair Marshal, a position he held for 8 years. Prior to that, Chief Coleman was the Fire Chief with the City of San Clemente Fire Department, and prior to that was the Operation Chief with the City of Costa Mesa Fire Department.
During his tenure as State Fire Marshal, the State Fire Marshal’s Office was merged into the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, now known as CAL FIRE.
In 2010, Ronny was appointed Chairman of the CSFA Volunteer Committee, and following that led a very successful four-year series of grant-funded workshops for volunteer fire departments on Leadership, Recruiting, and Retention, a legacy that CSFA carries forward to this day.
Chief Coleman was the past President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and in 1999, he was selected as one of the 20 Most Influential Fire Service Leaders of the 20th Century by Fire Chief Magazine. He was a prolific writer – authoring 19 books on fire service and leadership. Through his many professional affiliations, Chief Coleman had been at the forefront of many advances in firefighter leadership, safety, fire prevention, code enforcement, training, and technical innovation.
Chief Coleman is survived by his wife, Marie, his son Chris Coleman (North Carolina), his daughter Lisa Coleman (Colorado), and their families.
A local (Northern California) tribute to Chief Coleman will be hosted in Elk Grove in the coming week. Funeral services will follow in San Clemente, with a date to be announced. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to National Heritage Fire Museum or the California Fire Museum & Safety Learning Center.
The Coleman’s are requesting privacy at this time. Please contact their family liaison, Chris Fowler, at [email protected] with any urgent inquires.
Condolence cards may be sent to:
Mrs. Marie Coleman
c/o Chris Fowler
P.O. Box 661114
Sacramento, CA 95866