Montgomery County, MD - - - Former Fire Chief Thomas Carr, praised for his tireless service and outstanding leadership, passed away on April 24th in Charleston, South Carolina following complications from Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a rare neurological disorder that causes symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.
Carr was named the Chief of the Charleston Fire Department in November 2008 after retiring as Fire Chief of the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service. He was instrumental in helping the Charleston Fire Department recover from the loss of nine firefighters following the Sofa Super Store fire in 2007 and set into motion critical transformations to mold the Charleston Fire Department into a modern service. In April of 2010, Chief Carr announced to the public his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease and pledged his continued commitment to lead the Charleston Fire Department for as long as he could. In March 2012, he retired to focus on his battle with the more deadly MSA.
Chief Carr was named FIRE CHIEF’s 2010 Career Chief of the Year for his outstanding leadership and desire to improve the fire service. He was referred to as the “firefighter’s firefighter” and someone who earned his following through innovation and respect.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Chief Tom Carr. He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy and will probably be best remembered as a world class leader responsible for helping generations of firefighters and as the architect of the Nation’s Urban Search & Rescue Response System and the County’s Urban Search and Rescue Team”, said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “He compiled an unparalleled record of public service and achievements and his loss is deeply felt.”
“The fire service has lost a great leader and we’ve lost a great friend,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “Chief Carr was respected nationally and internationally. Under his leadership, the department added 4-person staffing, collective bargaining for volunteers and raised education and training standards. He led the department’s successful efforts to become a nationally accredited fire department and was a man of great vision, passion and integrity who led from the heart. His impact will be felt for many years to come.”
Carr began his career in 1973 as an 18-year-old volunteer paramedic with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad in Montgomery County (MD). He was hired as a career firefighter/paramedic in Montgomery County (MD) in 1977 and progressed through the ranks. He became the first operational fire chief of the Montgomery County Fire Rescue service in 2004. He was a long-standing advocate of the fire service, especially firefighter safety, and leaves a strong legacy of innovation and professionalism that will be felt for years to come.
Chief Carr is survived by his wife Anne, son West, daughter Amy, his parents, a brother and sister.