CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Fire Department has a new man in charge. Former Chief William Fitzgerald announced his retirement on August 5, and Howard Leonhard was named the department's new Emergency Services Chief on Monday.
Leonhard started his career in Middletown, Pennsylvania in 1977 and said he's waited all 37 years for his new position.
"Of course I was very excited at the opportunity to take over this department," Leonhard said. "I've been here two years and I was hoping someday to get the position as Emergency Services Chief."
Leonhard said he also plans to use his military experience to help benefit the department. He spent 11 years in active duty for the Navy, and left to work at Prince George's County Fire Department in Maryland, where he was in the Air Force reserves. He worked out of Andrew's Air Force base in the fire protection department for another 11 years.
"Both of those jobs gave me a lot of fire ground experience, and things you wouldn't get out of a normal municipal fire department," Leonhard said. "Along with that, there was that military background and leadership that you learn in the military that you just don't learn in other vocations."
Leonhard plans to implement a training plan on fire behavior to assist employees safely through NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
"A lot of the things we've been doing for a long time are now being looked at as needing change," Leonhard said. "It's going to take a little cultural shift on how our tactics are going to change. The efforts to suppress fires today are going to be a little different than they were 20 years ago."Everything Leonhard plans on doing is all part of protecting his city.
"We're moving forward with other grants and other opportunities to provide a better service to the people of Chambersburg," he said.
Leonhard said he was recommended by the borough manager, and one other internal employee also applied for the job.