FPE News Story

Alumnus Appointed Montgomery County Fire Chief

Alumnus Appointed Montgomery County Fire Chief

Montgomery County Fire Chief Steven E. Lohr (B.S. ’90). Photo courtesy of MCFRS.
Montgomery County Fire Chief Steven E. Lohr (B.S. ’90). Photo courtesy of MCFRS.

Department of Fire Protection Engineering (FPE) alumnus Steven E. Lohr (B.S. ’90) was sworn in as Montgomery County, Maryland’s newest Fire Chief. He now commands the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, which includes a team of approximately 2000 civilian, sworn, and volunteer personnel and 37 fire and rescue stations. The department serves over a million residents occupying 500 square miles just north of Washington, D.C., and responds to over 115,000 calls each year.

Prior to his appointment, Lohr served as the department’s Interim Chief and in two senior staff chief positions, including Chief of Operations. In these roles he led efforts to upgrade communications, centralize maintenance, and build new facilities.

Unlike many graduates of the University of Maryland’s fire protection engineering program, Lohr has spent his entire career in the fire service, which he describes as his “first love.” A college education, he explains, was part of his plan to become the best firefighter and company officer he could be. After completing an associate’s degree in fire protection technology at Catonsville Community College (now CCBC), he enrolled in the University of Maryland.

“I was looking for the ultimate fire protection program that would fully prepare me for anything,” he says. When he arrived on campus, he was an older, part-time student with a full time job. He credits the personal attention he received from FPE’s faculty, and the low student-to-faculty ratio, with enabling him to maintain his focus and reach graduation.

“The engineering degree solidified my problem solving skills and trained me to seek out facts and solutions to problems,” he says. “[It] provide[d] me [with] a distinct edge as I progressively competed in seven different ranks through the [fire] department.”

It also enabled him to form strong professional relationships that bridged the gap between the county’s firefighters and fire protection engineers, who handle building code review, code compliance, risk management, and fire and explosion investigations.

“One of the proudest moments of my life was to graduate as a fire protection engineer from the University of Maryland,” says Lohr. “I would never have imagined, even as a 30 year-old on my best day, that I would be Fire Chief of a major metropolitan department.” But there is “no question,” he adds, that his experience at Maryland got him where he is today. “I have always said that the FPE program is the best-kept secret in higher education.”

May 27, 2014

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