Howard County, MD chief to be new fire rescue chief in Fairfax

FCFD command post

Fairfax County’s next fire rescue chief will come from another D.C. suburb.

John Butler

John S. Butler

Fairfax Supervisors have selected John S. Butler, the chief of Howard County’s Fire Rescue Department, to fill the position vacated by Chief Richard Bowers, who retired in April. Butler will start September 1.

Butler has been with the Howard County department since 1993 as a firefighter-paramedic. He served in a variety of roles in that department including battalion chief, emergency medical services chief and administrative chief. Butler was appointed Chief in 2014.

“After an extensive search including a community engagement process, Fairfax County is pleased to appoint Chief Butler to the position of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Chief,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. “He will have the opportunity to lead an elite world-renowned department and I look forward to working with him.”

During his tenure in Howard County, Chief Butler expanded services, hired the most diverse firefighter/paramedic trainee class in the department’s history, helped establish the first and only local affiliate of the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (iWomen), established numerous community outreach programs, led the construction of several fire stations and improved service delivery and response times.

“We had a number of strong candidates, however, Chief Butler demonstrated the leadership, vision and communications skills that will move our excellent Fire and Rescue Department forward,” said County Executive Bryan Hill. “His proven experience and successful leadership at the helm of a large department will continue to strengthen our culture and contribute to a positive future for the department.”    

Butler holds a Master of Science in management from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Baltimore. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and holds a certificate from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Leadership in Crisis Program. He is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs Human Relations Committee and Maryland’s Emergency Medical Services Board and is a 2014 recipient of Johns Hopkins University’s Global Achievement Award for his humanitarian work in Africa. Butler also served for 21 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including two combat tours.

Butler will receive an annual salary of $201,878.77.


About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at FairfaxNews. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years.  This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns.  He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C. He has won two Ohio State Awards for his reporting and producing and he led coverage that won an Edward R. Murrow Award.