James “Jim” Master, a life member and former deputy chief of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, died Tuesday morning at Suburban Hospital after a long illness. He was 75.
Deputy Chief Master joined the Rescue Squad in 1982 as a probationary member on Friday Night Crew. He quickly made his mark on the Squad and began to serve in leadership positions, starting as a night crew officer in 1985. Over the next 25 years, he was elected several times as a chief officer and also served on the Rescue Squad’s board of directors as treasurer.
“Jim showed his excitement and intense passion for our mission from Day One,” said Rescue Squad Chief Ned Sherburne, who served as Deputy Chief Master’s first night crew officer and later alongside him in the chief’s ranks. “His commitment never wavered, and he was as intense in his last years as deputy chief as he was in the beginning.”
In addition to his leadership as a member of the department’s command staff, Chief Master oversaw numerous projects. In a 2001 article about the Rescue Squad, then-Washington Post columnist Bob Levey said Deputy Chief Master was “known around B-CC as the guy to see about details.”
Deputy Chief Master’s training as a civil engineer was evident in the roles he took on, such as overseeing the design and purchase of several heavy rescue trucks and ambulances throughout his tenure. When not volunteering several nights a week at the Rescue Squad, Deputy Chief Master sold fire and rescue equipment for Maryland Fire Equipment.
But it was his mentorship of other EMTs and firefighters throughout his time with the Rescue Squad that left its biggest mark. A certified fire instructor, Deputy Chief Master had an influence on hundreds of firefighters, EMTs and paramedics at the Rescue Squad and throughout the entire Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service during his quarter century of service. He took immense pride in the service demonstrated by his fellow members of the Rescue Squad, telling the Washington Post that “one of the best moments of his life was when 75 B-CC volunteers showed up at headquarters, without being asked, late on the morning of Sept. 11.”
Deputy Chief Master received many accolades throughout his fire and rescue service tenure, including for his service as the senior command officer at the Rescue Squad on 9/11. In 2018, the Rescue Squad honored him with the Donald L. Fitzgerald Memorial Award, an honor bestowed on a Rescue Squad life member whose many years of service “set new standards of dedication and commitment to public service and the Rescue Squad that are examples to all members.”
A memorial service will be scheduled to honor Deputy Chief Master’s lifetime of service to his community, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, and his fellow members of the fire and rescue service.