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Boonsboro fire chief stepping down

December 27, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

Boonsboro fire chief stepping down



BOONSBORO - After a decade at the helm of the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro, Fire Chief Oley Griffith is stepping down.

Deputy Chief Keith Abrecht will replace Griffith on Dec. 31.

"It's a hard thing to do," said Griffith, 38. "It's been a privilege and an honor to serve the community of Boonsboro and the people of southern Washington County. The department's in for a change, but there's still a lot of good people here."

Griffith, who works as a full-time firefighter for the Fort Detrick Fire Department in Frederick County, Md., is leaving his Boonsboro post to devote more time to the construction of a log home on the outskirts of town.

"It's been our dream home and that's what's taking me away from here," he said. "It's a priority to finish the house within the next six months."

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The Sharpsburg native has been involved in the fire service since he was 15.

Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Randy - who will soon retire after 20 years as an arson investigator in California - Griffith joined the Sharpsburg Fire Department's junior program.

He rose through the ranks there, eventually serving as chief for three years.

Griffith became a member of the Boonsboro fire department in 1981 while attending Boonsboro High School. He took a more active role in the company after marrying and moving to town in 1985, he said.

Since becoming chief in 1990, Griffith's responsibilities have ranged from implementing departmental goals and objectives to keeping his fellow firefighters safe and building company motivation, he said.

His decision to step down is in the best interests of a busy department that requires an always accessible leader, Griffith said.

Boonsboro Fire Department President Don Shumaker called Griffith a "great man" who will be missed. The community has benefited from his service, Shumaker said.

Griffith credited the fire company's success to the unwavering support of the Boonsboro Mayor and Town Council and the hard work and tenacity of his fire company crew.

"There's not been a goal they've set that they haven't achieved," he said. "The Boonsboro Fire Department is very progressive. If they want something, they'll find a way."

Under Griffith's leadership, the fire department opened a new substation in southern Washington County and put into service two new four-wheel drive utility vehicles, a rescue engine, brush truck, ladder truck, thermal imaging camera and new automatic defibrillators.

The used tanker that the company purchased for the substation has substantially reduced fire emergency response times in the area and reduced insurance premiums for homeowners in southern Washington County, Griffith said.

He plans to remain active in the community after his resignation from the fire department and help Abrecht through the transition.

Griffith also hopes to have more time to devote to his family, including wife, Sheri, and children, Andrew, 10, and Alison, 8.

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