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New Sandy Spring chief looks forward to strengthening fire department -

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Mitch Dinowitz, who has served as deputy chief of Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department for the past four years, is excited to lead the department as its new chief.

“I am looking forward to strengthening the department and serving the community, he said. “I am eager to take on the challenge.”

Dinowitz was elected chief for a two-year term on June 12. He served as acting fire chief since May 15, after former chief A. Michael Kelley resigned to take a paid position with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services.

Kelley said he had been grooming his replacement and is confident in handing over the reins.

“Chief Dinowitz has accomplished quite a bit in the time he’s been with Sandy Spring,” he said. “I consider him a very good incident commander and feel he will be the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department’s chief for a long time.”

Dinowitz, 34, has lived in Olney for four years. Originally from Arkansas, he came to area in 2003 to attend college at American University.

As a child, he had always been interested in firefighting. He joined a volunteer fire department while in college.

Since then, he has served at a few stations in the county, but has been at Sandy Spring since 2012 as a volunteer.

“I have always been interested in the ‘lights and sirens aspect’ and I like being there to help people,” Dinowitz said.

That corresponds to his “day job,” working for the Montgomery County Government in the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

“Working in emergency management, I have the same goal as I do at the fire department — to keep people safe,” he said.

Dinowitz has worked his way up through the ranks at Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department (SSVFD). Each new role added increased responsibility and required more dedication.

As deputy chief, he was in charge of the department’s operations. Prior to that he served as captain and lieutenant.

As chief, he says staffing the department is his main priority.

“We always need more people to help us get the apparatus out the door,” he said. “Everyone has their own motivation for joining, but the real challenge is getting people to stick with it in the long run and to build that cadre of people.”

The new chief also wants to move forward on plans to purchase additional apparatus based on the needs of the community and to be able to staff the equipment.

His wife, Chelsea, is also a member of the department, serving as an EMS lieutenant.

Dinowitz has two dogs and likes to travel, but said most of his interests and hobbies are related to emergency and disaster response.

He also serves on national Incident management deployment teams, which respond to disasters as needed.

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