The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed Richard Bowers Jr. the county’s new fire chief Tuesday afternoon at their board meeting at the Fairfax County Government Center.
Bowers will come to Fairfax County from his current position in Montgomery County, Md., where he has served as fire chief since 2008. He has served for more than 35 years in the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.
Bowers will take over for Ronald Mastin, who plans to retire by May 7 from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. 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 Fairfax Station's Crosspointe Station 41 and Fairview Station 32.
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 the University of Maryland, where he earned a master's 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.