Dryden Retires, Maple Becomes Purcellville’s New Fire Chief

For the first time in more than a decade, a new fire chief will lead the Purcellville Volunteer Fire Company.

Fire Chief Bob Dryden, 51, stepped down last month after 13 years in the role and 28 years with Company 2. Filling his shoes is former assistant fire chief Scott Maple, 49, who brings with him 13 years of experience working as a firefighter with the company. Dryden said that he decided to not put his name in for re-election as fire chief because he wants to focus on his health and because he might have a career opportunity with the town in the next fiscal year.

Dryden’s history as a firefighter began in 1989, when he enlisted as a volunteer with the Blue Ridge Fire Company in Clarke County. It was two years later that he moved to Purcellville and 12 after that when he was elected as the company’s assistant fire chief. Dryden was elected as fire chief in 2005 and has been in the role ever since, aside from a brief period when he stepped away for one year.

Firefighting for Dryden is more than a job—it’s a family affair. Growing up in New Mexico, his father served as an assistant fire chief. His wife, Robin, also currently works as a volunteer firefighter in Purcellville. Robin actually has been in the field much longer than her husband—starting out as a volunteer with the Blue Ridge Fire Company, which her father founded, when she was 16 years old.

“It’s engrained in me,” she said. “It’s just part of our family.”

Company 2 President Brad Quin said that during Dryden’s 27 years with the company, he’s secured high-quality equipment, donated equipment to volunteer companies-in-need, helped the company grow to more than 100 members, helped secure county funding and been a vocal member of the County Fire Operations Committee, which provides operational policy and process development for the county’s combined fire-rescue system.

“He has managed to meet the challenges that have come from every quarter of the operation,” Quin said. “The leadership in this organization is far superior than I have seen in other organizations.”

Dryden has also mastered rural water supply techniques to the point that other jurisdictions have looked to him for instruction. That means he’s been more adept than others at pulling water from ponds and streams when fighting rural fires. He’s even helped the county install 12 dry hydrants—a system that pulls water from nearby ponds for firefighters to connect their hoses to when combating fires.

“In the rural parts of this county, you have to go find that water,” he said. “If there’s something that you enjoy, you’re going to go seek out the training.”

Dryden said the most monumental experience he’s had during his time as fire chief wasn’t any single event, but that a group of people can come together to make the operation work. “The ultimate goal is to provide service to the citizens,” he said.

Thirteen-year Purcellville Volunteer Fire Chief Bob Dryden stands with his wife, Robin, and Mayor Kwasi Fraser after being honored by the Town Council for his 27 years with the company. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]
For his contributions to the company, the Loudoun County Combined Fire-Rescue System honored him with the Leadership Award in 2012, the Hall of Fame Award in 2017 and the John C. Carr, Jr. Memorial Award in 2018.

Maple now steps in to lead the company for at least the next two years. His background in firefighting dates back to 1984, when he first volunteered with the Harrison City Volunteer Fire Company in Pennsylvania.

From 2002-2006, Maple worked as a technician with the Sterling Volunteer Fire Company before becoming a Purcellville volunteer in April 2006 as a lieutenant. He was promoted to captain in January 2013 and was elected assistant fire chief in January 2017, a position he held for the next 23 months until he was elected fire chief in December.

Maple said that his most memorable experiences at Company 2 have been interacting with the community and getting the chance to teach others about firefighting.

“What I enjoy the most is…teaching training,” he said. “That’s what I get out of the fire service.”

For his time with the company, Maple was honored by the county’s combined fire-rescue system with the 2018 Officer of the Year Award.

Moving into 2019 as the town’s new fire chief, Maple said that he’s especially focused on growing the company’s membership, which has been a low in recent years. He’ll work with his crew on a transition process that will see four career firefighters from the county come in daily from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Jan. 10 to supplement the volunteers’ work.

Dryden said that while Maple is equipped to handle the job, he’ll inevitably need some help along the way. He urged Maple to keep three pieces of advice in mind: to not try to do everything himself, to rely on the people around him, and to ask questions. “Can he do this? Sure he can,” Dryden said.

Maple said that while he’s ready to take on the responsibilities of fire chief, he understands that he’s filling a spot left by someone who worked for more than a decade to gain the respect of his peers.

“I’ve looked up to [Dryden] ever since I’ve been here—I consider us friends,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever fill his shoes, [but] I’m going to do my best.”

pszabo@loudounnow.com

The Purcellville Town Council and staff honors 13-year Volunteer Fire Chief Bob Dryden, who retired from the role in December. [Patrick Szabo/Loudon Now]

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