Henry G. "Buddy" Herling, 83, of Somerton, former commissioner of the Department of Licenses and Inspections, died of heart failure Thursday, Dec. 2, at Lafayette-Redeemer Hospice.

Mr. Herling spent much of his career serving the city, first as an electrician, then as a firefighter for four years, before becoming a civil engineer and fire-code specialist. In 1980, he was appointed deputy commissioner of L&I, and became commissioner in 1985.

After leaving the department in 1988, he was a consultant for 20 years for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. He also consulted for a fire-loss appraisal company and was an expert witness for legal cases involving fire codes.

Mr. Herling was a volunteer consultant for Project HOME, which assists homeless people in North Philadelphia, and Cranaleith Spiritual Center in Somerton. His knowledge of city building regulations, fire codes, and zoning laws helped the nonprofits avoid bureaucratic logjams, his daughter, Virginia March, said.

A native of West Oak Lane, Mr. Herling graduated from North Catholic High School. During World War II, he served in the Navy.

In the 1950s, while a firefighter, he developed ulcerative colitis. He underwent an ileostomy and for 20 years advised ileostomy patients, his daughter said.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Herling is survived by sons Daniel, Michael, and Joseph; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His wife of 57 years, Christine T. Lavin, died in 2007.

A Funeral Mass will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, at St. Christopher Roman Catholic Church, 13301 Proctor Rd. Friends may call at 1. Burial will be in Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem.