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New Chief for Fire and Rescue

Jack Brown to become acting chief May 12.

Jack Brown plans to continue fostering the partnership between paid and volunteer personnel when he becomes acting chief of the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue team on May 12.

Brown is moving up from his post as assistant chief to replace Bob Griffin, who has been hired to lead Arlington's new Office of Emergency Management.

County Administrator Kirby Bowers said Griffin built a strong foundation between the volunteers and the paid firefighters and emergency medical technicians. "He worked well with establishing relations with the volunteer companies while internally building the career structure," he said.

Brown is an excellent choice to replace Griffin, he added. "He has 28 years experience and commands the respect of the career staff. And he'll work well with the volunteers."

BOWERS TALKED about the importance of increasing the number of volunteers, particularly to cover the night shifts. Loudoun has relied on paid staff and volunteers for a number of years, but the rise in paid personnel began about five years ago, he said. Too many families had dual working parents, and the number of volunteers declined.

The cost of services also has been escalating. "Having volunteer fire and rescue is going to mitigate those cost increases," he said. "We want to do everything we can to see that volunteers continue in the future."

Brown said the responsibilities of the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue has changed considerably since Sept. 11, 2001. He was among the county fire and rescue workers that responded to the crash at the Pentagon.

Loudoun now has to be ready to respond to emergency calls triggered by terrorists' activities. "We need to be trained and equipped to answer to those incidents as well," he said.

In his new job, Brown will oversee the hiring of 16 new personnel for fire and rescue stations in Purcellville and Neersville. They will be hired after July 1, the beginning of the county's 2005 Fiscal Year.

He cited solid communication as a priority under his leadership. "I want to make sure the Board of Supervisors and the citizens know where we are and where we're going," he said.

BROWN JOINED Loudoun four years ago. "I looked at it as an opportunity to be involved with a fire and rescue that was growing and to be part of the one of the best volunteer and career fire and rescue in the country," he said.

Does he want to become chief on a permanent basis? "I haven't decided yet," he said. "Let's see if it's a good fit. I want to make sure it's good for all of us."