The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed Richard Bowers Jr. the county’s new fire chief Tuesday afternoon.
Bowers will leave his current position as fire chief in Montgomery County, Md., which he has held since 2008. He has served in the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service for more than 35 years.
Bowers take over for Ronald Mastin, who plans to retire from the Fairfax County Fire Department on May 7. Bowers’ appointment is effective April 29.
After his appointment, Bowers told Patch one of his priorities would be community outreach and fire prevention.
“I think the most important thing is that I’m their fire chief,” he said, referring to Fairfax County residents. “We’re going to use every available means to get the word out about safety and prevention.”
During his time as Montgomery County chief, Bowers managed the combined career and volunteer service of more than 2,100 firefighters and rescuers. He also handled an operating budget of $204 million and capital improvement program budget of $44 million.
In Fairfax, he'll oversee nearly 1,400 uniformed men and women and 180 civilians across the county's 37 fire and rescue stations, including the Vienna Station on Center Street in Vienna.
He will receive an annual salary of $187,500.
Bowers said he also intends to focus on proper training for the men and women of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.
“I think the most important thing is a state of readiness, and the foundation of that is training,” he said. “This department is great. Its technical competence is unbelievable.”
Bowers attended he University of Maryland, where he earned a master degree certification in human resource management, a bachelor of fire science degree and a public fire-protection management and administration education certificate.
Bower is the current chair of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments National Capital Region Fire Chiefs Committee and was a Pentagon 9/11 operational response task force member and served as a member of the FEMA USAR Oklahoma City bombing disaster response team.