Millard H. Sutton, 85, the chief of the D.C. Fire Department from 1952 to 1962 and a firefighter in the city for more than 45 years, died of cancer April 10 at the American Medical Center nursing home in Greenbelt. He lived in Washington.
During Chief Sutton's years as chief, the Fire Department was desegregated despite opposition from Southern congressmen on Capitol Hill. The chief began the process by assigning black firemen as vacation reliefs at previously all-white stations. The process of integration was completed by the time he retired.
A measure of Chief Sutton's skill as an administrator came in 1960, when the International City Managers Association named the D.C. Fire Department the third best major-city department in the country behind Detroit and Los Angeles.
An outgoing man who was known for hard work, Chief Sutton once left a dinner at which he was to receive a "man of the year" award and, still wearing his evening clothes, directed firemen fighting a serious blaze.
In January 1953, he was one of 40 firemen injured in the explosion of a burning building near 10th and E streets NE. Despite 27 leg fractures, multiple cuts and a concussion, he was back in harness seven months later.
Chief Sutton, who was born in Washington, served in the Army during World War I. He grew up five doors away from No. 13 Engine Company in the southwest section of the city. He joined the department in 1916.
He was the recipient of awards from the D.C. Fire Department, the National Press Club, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Metropolitan Board of Trade and the American Cancer Society.
He was a director of Capitol Hill Hospital. He was a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Lions Club, the Masons, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
His wife, the former Louise Payne, died in 1979. Chief Sutton leaves no immediate survivors.