The Washington Post

Manassas City fire department is a mess (UPDATE: New chief will take job after all)

Manassas City firefighters during a class on aircraft rescue firefighting at Manassas Regional Airport. (City of Manassas Fire and Rescue Dept.)

UPDATE, Wednesday, 6 p.m.: Brett Bowman has decided he will take the Manassas City fire chief’s job. So good luck to him with all that lies ahead.

ORIGINAL POST: There’s no indication that the chaos surrounding the City of Manassas Fire and Rescue Department will hinder their ability to fight fires or rescue accident victims. But make no mistake: There’s a LOT of chaos going on with the Manassas fire department right now.

First, Chief Michael L. Wood resigned in December. Then interim chief Dale McCleese resigned last month. Now the newly-selected chief, Assistant Prince William Fire Chief Brett Bowman, has told Manassas he’s having second thoughts about the job amid the turmoil, according to The Post’s Jennifer Buske.

The whole thing revolves around the inevitable conflict that occurs when fire departments try to convert from a volunteer force to a full-time professional force. Virtually everywhere, fire departments started as all-volunteer outfits and proudly stayed that way for decades or centuries. Manassas has had volunteer crews since the late 19th century, the Manassas Volunteer Fire Company and the Greater Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad, and a city-run department was only formed in 2008.

But the transfer of authority from the volunteer side to the “career” side sometimes doesn’t go smoothly. In Manassas, the dispute has not died down, and now it seems no one wants to run the show. The city of 35,000 is now waiting to see if Bowman will take over. He will reportedly make up his mind by Friday.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans