Conshohocken names new fire chief
In his role as trivia master, Leo Costello might have posed this question: Who is chief of the Conshohocken Fire Department? Today, the answer is: Leo Costello. Costello, who used to chair Conshohocken Fire Company No. 2’s annual Trivia Night, was recently appointed chief of the department when the former chief, Stephen Phipps, stepped down and accepted a job offer in New Jersey.
“This is a new challenge in my life, which I’m looking forward to taking on,” Costello said. As soon as he gets settled into his new role as chief, Costello said he will meet with the rest of his line officers and members of both Conshohocken fire companies (Washington Fire Company No. 1 and Conshohocken Fire Company No. 2) that Costello oversees to determine their short- and longterm goals.
An important topic that Costello is eager to tackle is the need for more volunteers.
“There are a lot of new residents in town,” he pointed out. ”I’m planning to reach out to them, tell them who we are and why we need volunteers. There is so much to do in a volunteer fire company to keep the garage doors open and the lights on. Yes, our primary objective is to recruit firefighters, but we also need volunteers to perform other kinds of work, such as administrative chores and fundraising efforts.”
When he became a member in 1980, Costello recalls, it was not uncommon for fire companies to arrive on a fire scene with a home, garage or automobile already fully involved in flames.
“Today, the severity of calls has decreased significantly,” he pointed out. Much of the credit goes to the Borough of Conshohocken. “I applaud what they have done. They have two full-time fire inspectors/firefighters, who inspect homes, businesses and office buildings to make sure they are thoroughly clean of hazards and debris, that they include smoke detectors and sprinklered alarms and that they are otherwise up to borough code.”
Fifty-two-year-old Costello, a lifelong resident of Conshohocken, joined the department at the age of 18. One influence for his joining was his brother John, who volunteered just a year before; the other reason was a fire he witnessed while coming home from school one day.
“I happened to look up into the sky and saw heavy black smoke. It wasn’t far from my home on West 10th Avenue so I walked over to investigate. When I came upon the fire at Sherry Lake Apartments on Butler Pike, I saw fire and smoke coming out of several apartments. I was impressed with what I saw, but what impressed me even more was how the emergency responders interacted with each other to put the fire out.”