Chambersburg's assistant emergency services chief returns to his Pa. roots

October 07, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Howard Butch Leonhard is the new assistant emergency services chief in the Borough of Chambersburg, Pa.
Photo by Jennifer Fitch

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A newly hired assistant emergency services chief in the Borough of Chambersburg will be continuing his passion for firefighting, while returning to his Pennsylvania roots.

Howard “Butch” Leonhard, a Middletown, Pa., native, said his interest in fire service started at a young age.

“I grew up right across the street from one of the fire stations in Middletown. In fact, it was the station where my dad was a volunteer,” he said.

Leonhard, 50, said moving to Chambersburg will put him closer to family. He said he was happy working in Prince George’s County, Md., but wanted to return to Pennsylvania.

The Chambersburg Borough Council recently hired Leonhard as part of a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His duties include being an operational chief for fires, grant management, statistics, fire code enforcement and training.

Emergency Services Chief William FitzGerald described Leonhard as “a perfect fit” for the role.

Leonhard worked in Prince George’s County for 20 years. There, he focused on training, and while he said he is passionate about it, he is excited to be in a more diversified position.

Leonhard, who served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force Reserves, said he looks forward to making the jobs easier for Chambersburg’s 21 staff firefighters.

“In the end of the day, it’s just the desire to help somebody,” Leonhard said. “Even if it is administrative stuff, it helps somebody.”

Chambersburg is facing the same challenges as other departments nationwide, Leonhard said. Call volumes are increasing and staffing levels are not able to keep up, he said.

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