Leggett decides Montgomery County’s interim fire chief should be permanent -- Gazette.Net


Steve Lohr has dealt with tricky situations in the course of his career as a Montgomery County firefighter — from multi-home fires on hot summer days to helping deliver babies. (He’s done that four times.)

Now he is preparing for a new challenge: County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has decided on Lohr as the next fire chief, subject to the County Council’s approval.

Lohr, 58, became interim chief of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service in May 2013, after then-Chief Richard Bowers resigned and became the fire chief in Fairfax County, Va.

Bowers was listed in a 2013 county employee database as having a salary of $190,000 as chief.

Lohr, who joined the department in 1985, has a current salary is $155,703 as head of the operations division, according to the database.

“I’m thrilled,” Lohr said, adding, “I feel like I’ve been prepping for this all my life.”

The council could vote to confirm Lohr as early as Tuesday, but it also might be after the holiday recess, county officials said.

In a release announcing the news on Wednesday, Leggett called Lohr a “highly regarded leader” in fire and rescue.

Lohr has been a firefighter since 1971, when he joined a volunteer fire department in Washington County, he said.

He later moved to Montgomery County.

Before joining the fire service as a career firefighter, he worked as a volunteer firefighter at two local stations — one in Silver Spring, and one in Gaithersburg, he said.

Lohr said he would work to meet the new challenges of his job and the evolving public safety challenges in Montgomery County — among them, serving an aging population and keeping his agency properly staffed. He also wants to maintain good relationships with other local and national agencies and make sure the county’s fire stations have necessary equipment.

One specific challenge that the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service will face is the increasing “baby boomer” population, a group that is getting sicker and need more care as they age, he said.

“We will need to be able to meet that demand,” he said.

The Fire and Rescue Service also will focus on making sure heart attack victims receive emergency care as soon as possible, he said. The department works to make sure that cardiac care at a hospital is available within 90 minutes of a 911 call.

In the last three months, firefighters made that benchmark 41 out of 42 times, he said.