Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Chief Richard E. Burch, Jr. announced Friday that he intends to retire in April 2015 after over 18 years of service. Burch submitted his retirement intentions to County Administration.
Burch comes from a true fire family. Both his grandfather and father were Captains with the Richmond Fire Bureau and his uncle was a firefighter. Following in their footsteps, Burch began his career at the age of 14 as a volunteer firefighter in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Burch served in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Bronze Star. After his discharge, he joined the Richmond Fire Bureau in 1972 at age 20. He left there in 1977 to begin his position as the Deputy Fire Chief in Hanover County, Virginia. Burch came to Roanoke in 1996 and became the second Chief of Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department.
During his tenure, Roanoke County Fire and Rescue has grown to an outstanding combination department with over 150 career personnel and over 200 active volunteers. Burch says, “Our providers are compassionate and dedicated and I believe they provide the best possible services available to the citizens and visitors of Roanoke County.”
The department also pursued regional cooperation with neighboring jurisdictions that allowed the sharing of resources, improvements in safety, and higher levels of customer service. Burch says, “Regional cooperation only works when the participants share the same desire to provide excellent services. Here in the Roanoke Valley it was a great success. The department will continue to focus on regional endeavors as opportunities become available.”
Burch also has been instrumental in improving the fire and rescue service at the state and national level by serving in leadership roles in organizations and on committees. These organizations and committees have had an impact on national policy and have affect the deployment of fire resources during major disasters across the United States.
“Our citizens should feel very proud of the services they receive from the Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department as they are the best of the best. I am proud and honored to have served such an outstanding organization over the past 18 years.”