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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
Michael “Mike” Kelley has stepped down as chief of Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department to accept a new position within the county.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Chief Scott E. Goldstein on May 14 announced that the County Council confirmed Kelley as chief of the Division of Volunteer and Community Services, a paid position.
County Executive Marc Elrich (D) recommended Kelley for the post.
“This is definitely bittersweet,” Kelley said. “This new position will be a challenge, but something I have been working towards for many years. I am very familiar with the stuff I will be doing.”
A new chief will be elected to serve the Sandy Spring fire department.
Kelley joins Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service after nearly 45 years as a volunteer firefighter/EMT in local fire and rescue departments.
Kelley picks up the division responsibilities from Chief Alan Hinde following his retirement last fall. Hinde served for 13 years as the volunteer division chief.
In his new role, Kelley will be responsible for the management of the volunteer component of the county Fire and Rescue Service. That includes more than 2,500 volunteer fire and rescue service providers and volunteer administrative staff who contribute on average a half-million hours annually through the 19 local fire and rescue departments.
The Division of Volunteer and Community Services is also responsible for delivering fire safety education and community risk reduction programs throughout the county in conjunction with the local departments.
Kelley has been a member of Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department (SSVFD) since 1994. In 2013, he became SSVFD fire chief, a volunteer position from which he had to resign in order to accept the county position.
During his tenure as Sandy Spring chief, Kelley oversaw the replacement of several pieces of SSVFD emergency apparatus, including the new Aerial Tower 740, which was placed in service in 2018, a new off-road brush-fire truck, a new boat support truck and other command support vehicles.
A major renovation of Station 40 on Georgia Avenue was also completed, which included a two-story addition, larger bay doors to accommodate the new aerial tower, larger sleeping quarters, and new locker/shower facilities to accommodate a growing number of female firefighters and EMTs.
The station renovation and apparatus acquisitions were funded by state and county grants as well as donations from the community.
Kelley formally resigned as SSVFD chief at the department’s May membership meeting. Mitch Dinowitz, who served as Kelley’s deputy, was sworn in as acting chief.
The department’s annual elections were scheduled to take place on June 12. Kelley said he expected Dinowitz to be officially elected as chief.
Kelley said when he became chief his goal was to train a replacement for when he decided to step down.
“I am glad to be able to turn over the reins to Mitch Dinowitz,” he said. “But what I will miss the most is my close ties to the community, including events like Olney Days, the Santa Claus runs, National Night Out and our open houses.”
Kelley is a retired administrative officer from Kensington Fire Department, where he served from 1984 to 2014.
In 2012, he was appointed by then-County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to the Montgomery County Fire and Emergency Services Commission. He has also served as a program manager and president of the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association and the Maryland State Firemen’s Association.
He was president of the Greater Olney Civic Association from 2000 to 2001.
Kelley is a lifelong Montgomery County resident who grew up in old Garrett Park. He attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, then located in Wheaton, and graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s University with a degree in business administration.
He has lived in the greater Olney area since 1988 and has four grown children and seven grandchildren.
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