His career in emergency services spans 50 years.
Frederick, Md (KM). A change at the top is coming to Frederick County’s Division of Fire and Rescue Services. On Thursday, during a news conference, County Executive Jan Gardner announced that Chief Tom Owens is retiring, effective June 30th.
Owens served as Division Director from 2010-2013 under the County Commissioner form of government. After she was elected, County Executive Gardner brought Owens back as Chief of Fire and Rescue Services in March, 2015.
During his recent r tenure, Gardner said Owens has brought a high level of professionalism to the agency. ‘Over the last four years, the Division of Fire and Rescue Services has recruited, hired and trained 115 new positions in eight separate recruit classes,” she says. “The number of fire fighters in the Division has grown by more than 30% in four short years which is really remarkable.”
“The additional positions allowed the Division to recuperated from the earlier staffing cuts during the recession, and to make progress to addressing the needs of a growing population,” says Gardner.
She also said the Division has earned national and state recognition for its work.
In comments during the news conference, Chief Owens didn’t want to take all the credit. He praised the County Executive and her staff, and the County Council, for their support of the Division of Fire and Rescue Services. “It’s really all been accomplished under your leadership,” he said. “Without a county executive that sees the vision forward of the service needs are, agency level leadership, it makes it much more difficult for it to happen.”
The Chief also gave a lot of credit to his staff. “They do an incredible amount of work for one of the smallest administrative staffs in any fire department in the Metropolitan Washington Region,” he said. “I cannot be more proud of both the quality and quantity of work they produce on behalf of the citizens of Frederick County on daily basis. And I know for sure that because of their dedication, that work will continue on.”
He also had some special praise for the personnel who answer the calls for service everyday. “To those men and women who stand watch over our community, I thank each of you for your dedication. You’re some of the finest career and volunteer providers that I’ve had the privilege to work with, and it’s been an honor to work alongside of you,” Owens said, at times fighting back tears.
After Owens steps down, Deputy Chief Tom Coe will serve as Acting Director for the Division of Fire and Rescue Services.
Prior to coming to Frederick County in 2010, Owens was fire chief in the City of Fairfax,Virginia. He also worked at fire departments in Winchester, Virginia, Fairfax County, Virginia, Loudon County, Virginia, Prince William County, Virginia, and Washington DC.
By Kevin McManus