A.J. McCarthy to become full-time Fire Chief of Longwood Fire Company
● By J. Chambless
Chief McCarthy (on right) at the Longwood Community Open House in 2015.
Fire Company volunteer Fire Chief A.J. McCarthy will become full-time
fire chief by the end of the year.
The change was unanimously approved by Longwood’s Board of Directors and membership. McCarthy has been a volunteer member of the fire company since 1997, when he began as a junior firefighter.
“I really have to thank the membership of the fire company for such a strong vote of confidence,” McCarthy said. “My father taught me that as a supervisor, your people always have to come first, and I like to think that I always have their best interest and safety at the forefront. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish as a team.”
Brad Bowman, president of the Board of Directors, said, “Longwood is a complex operation, with a mix of career and volunteer personnel providing basic and advanced fire, rescue and EMS skills to Longwood’s coverage area. The change to the full-time chief allows the organization to continue on our upward path protecting the community without the change of direction that normally occurs when a volunteer position terms out. We feel that this will allow us to provide continued and consistent guidance into the future as we have a lot of projects that we wish to accomplish. Even though the position is currently volunteer, it still has the requirements of a full time job with 24/7 access.”
McCarthy added, “This change allows me to focus 100 percent of my energy into the company, as opposed to having to juggle two full-time jobs, my family and other commitments. I need to thank my family and my wife, Marianne. Without them, the last six years of my term as Fire Chief wouldn't have happened. Marianne has always supported my firehouse participation, even when it meant canceling plans or leaving family events. To switch from a very secure civil service job to a career Fire Chief is risky and she never once questioned it. For that, I will always be grateful.”
The change in the structure of Longwood’s leadership has been discussed for several years as Longwood’s business plan matured and the company expanded full-time personnel, added volunteers and services to the community. Bowman said Longwood received recommendations in the past few years from outside industry experts that indicated a full-time chief might be needed.
McCarthy doesn’t expect any major changes in the operation of Longwood.
“I think we will be able to increase our efficiency and capabilities to the community,” he said. “I like to think that this new venture was so well accepted because the membership didn't want anything to change. Our group is really the best around. I couldn't ask for more dedicated people than we already have. It is truly a pleasure to work for them.
“We continuously evaluate our operation to see where we can improve. We have a few new administrative efficiencies we want to implement, such as a new cloud-based operating system to tie all of the firehouse operations into one process. Our office manager, Lori Kaluzny, is great, she really runs things and is top notch at her job. I plan on working with her to see if there are any things we can do to make her job easier.
“We have a project with all of our municipalities in the beginning stages to develop long-term plans to ensure that our company has what it needs to protect the community. I guess one of the bigger goals is replacing our inadequate firehouse. It's in desperate need of replacement and will be a multi-year project, since we have some unique obstacles at our current site to deal with. Other than that, I intend on discussing the operations as a group to see if there are areas that volunteer and career staff want to address.”
McCarthy said the opportunity to become a full-time chief was good for him and the fire company. “I've been in law enforcement for almost 15 years. I've had a great career but I have always enjoyed the fire service much more,” he said. “Since I've been Fire Chief, we have been able to make great strides to be the best around. We have a great group of employees and volunteers and I want to make sure that we around for another 95 years.
“I've enjoyed seeing the results of our actions -- something that you don't always realize in law enforcement. I guess the biggest reason was I wanted to have more time with my family. I have two small children, and a wonderful and very understanding wife. I wanted to continue leading Longwood into the future, but as of late, my family were the ones making the sacrifices for that to happen. I essentially was working seven days a week and at night after the kids went to bed. Something had to change.”
Longwood Fire Company has served the communities of Kennett, East Marlborough, Pennsbury and Pocopson townships since 1921. For more information visit www.longwoodfireco.com.