CHIEF RETIRES1

Woodstock Fire Chief Wayne Bowers stands inside the department’s engine room on Wednesday. Bowers is stepping down as chief after serving in the role for over a decade.

WOODSTOCK — The town’s fire chief is stepping down after 45 years of volunteer service with the Fire Department.

Chief Wayne Bowers, 68, has served the public ever since he joined the department on May 7, 1974. His last day as chief will be Dec. 31. Scott Gray will become the new chief.

Bowers said he expects to continue to volunteer at the department and that as he looks back, he said he is proud that he has been able to help people during all those years.

Bowers said when the department gets a call it is someone in distress, someone who is either hurt or is losing their home or possessions to a fire.

“It is also not just a call, we know these people. It’s personal to me,” Bowers said.

During his leadership, the Fire Department became a rescue company and fully compliant with county training standards. He was part of the department’s implementation of a local cancer prevention program based off of a national program, and the department won the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association Best Practices in Fire Service Health & Safety Award for Volunteers.

It is just in his nature to help people and his community. He said he was young when he first decided to volunteer.

“I told my dad I wanted to do something for the community, and that I was looking at going into the Fire Department. He said ‘that would be great’,” Bowers recalled.

Bowers has three sons, Aaron, Adam and Alan, who learned by his example of public service. All three have been volunteers with the department, he said.

“I asked Adam why he joined. He said ‘because I saw you’,” Wayne Bowers said.

Aaron Bowers is a corporal with the Woodstock Police Department and Adam Bowers remains a firefighter, now a lieutenant with Frederick County Fire and Rescue. He is stationed in Stephens City. Alan Bowers is a welder.

Woodstock Fire Capt. Phil Hottel has been good friends with Wayne Bowers for more than 45 years, serving with him for 44 of those years.

“I am very proud to work with him,” Hottel said.

Hottel described Wayne Bowers as a humble man who is family- and church-oriented and believes in community service and cares for the safety of the other firefighters.

“He believes in taking care of others before himself,” Hottel said.

Mayor Jeremy McCleary and the Town of Woodstock honored Wayne Bowers with a resolution of respect that was read and presented to him at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

McCleary said afterward that the Woodstock Fire Department is extremely professional and well-run, making it a point of pride for the community

“The years in which Chief Bowers has served as chief have included some amazing accomplishments and a continuation of the high level of professionalism that we have come to expect from the Woodstock Fire Department,” McCleary said. “I have no doubt that Chief Bowers’ wisdom, experience, and steady, consistent leadership have played a big role in the success of the department. To think that the Woodstock Fire Department has been around for 196 years, since 1823, and remains such a great organization is very impressive. I have no doubt that the early leaders of the Woodstock Fire Department would be extremely proud of the work that Chief Bowers has done.”

– Contact Melissa Topey at mtopey@nvdaily.com