Chief McDowell plans, directs, coordinates and oversees the activities of the Henrico County Division of Fire, an all-hazards metro-class fire department with 562 employees and an annual budget in excess of $56 million.
Chief McDowell began his fire service career as a volunteer firefighter/EMT in 1987 and served on the staff of the International Association of Fire Chiefs from 1992 to 1994, and as a budget & management analyst for Chesterfield County (VA) from 1995 to 1997. Chief McDowell joined Henrico Fire in 1997 and worked through the ranks as a firefighter / paramedic, fire lieutenant, training officer, station commander, departmental resource manager, and fire battalion chief before being sworn in as fire chief in 2012.
Chief McDowell earned a bachelor’s degree in Geography from Virginia Tech in 1991, and master of public administration degree from the University of North Texas in 1995. A graduate of the National Fire Academy, Chief McDowell is certified as an Executive Fire Officer by the U.S. Fire Administration. He earned the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence and also serves as an Accreditation Peer Assessor. In 2013 Chief McDowell was appointed by Governor Robert F. McDonnell to the Virginia E-911 Services Board. He is a graduate of the Henrico County Leadership Development Program and a 2014 graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond. In 2015, Chief McDowell was selected as the Southeastern Association of Fire Chief’s “Career Fire Chief of the Year.”
McDowell serves as the 2nd Vice President of the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association, 2016 President of the Central Virginia Fire Chiefs Association, and is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, where he serves on the Professional Development Committee. Chief McDowell is an active member of the West Richmond Rotary Club and serves as a Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 735.