As marshal, he fits the bill

November 27, 2001

As marshal, he fits the bill


Growing up, Jason Mowbray knew he would become a firefighter or police officer.

The problem was, with multiple family members working and volunteering for police and fire departments, Mowbray said there were persuasive arguments for both sides.

It was while he was pursuing criminal justice and fire science degrees at Allegany College that he decided on the fire service, he said.

"It was seeing the fire marshal in action," during his classes and a subsequent internship that clinched it for him, said Mowbray, 24.


In October, Mowbray was hired by the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal to work as a deputy fire marshal in the Western Region after he finishes training.

Mowbray was hired because of his training and his "keen interest in fire and rescue service," said Allen Gosnell, deputy chief fire marshal for the Western Region office in Hagerstown.

Hiring Mowbray increases the Western Region's staff to five deputy state fire marshals, he said.

"He's aggressive and brings a lot of talent to the job," Gosnell said.

In college, his fire science classes sparked his interest in investigation techniques and the evolution of spark to raging fire, Mowbray said.

"It's putting together pieces of the puzzle," he said.

Mowbray will attend the Hagerstown Police Training Academy starting in January and is expected to graduate in April. He will also attend fire and criminal investigations training at the National Fire Academy, Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and the FBI Academy.

Afterward, he will have a few weeks of ride-along training with an experienced fire marshal and then be on his own.

"He'll get his independence around July 4," Gosnell said.

Mowbray, who lives in Barton, Md., will be on call 24 hours a day and investigate fires in Washington, Garrett and Allegany counties.

Fire marshals are called when firefighters cannot determine the cause of a fire or when they suspect arson. It's the fire marshal's job to find out where and how a blaze started and follow up by filing charges once a possible arsonist is identified.

Fire marshals also inspect buildings and perform code enforcement.

A first-degree arson conviction is punishable by 30 years in jail and/or a $50,000 fine, Mowbray said.

Since being hired in October, Mowbray has worked closely with veteran fire marshal Ryan Chapman and his drug-detecting black Labrador, Canyon.

Mowbray said being with Chapman got him interested in K-9 fire detection and he plans to pursue related training. The bomb squad is also on his to-do list.

"I look forward to the challenge," he said.

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