Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard, who also has been Madison’s fire chief for the past 18 months, will step down from the Madison post on Thursday, the final day of the year.

Howard said he wants to concentrate on his duties as fire chief in Skowhegan. A new Madison fire chief will be appointed by a vote of department personnel in June, Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis said.

Howard, 37, said he took over the top spot at the Madison Fire Department while still fire captain in Skowhegan. Once he was named fire chief in Skowhegan, the work load of doing both jobs became too much, he said.

“When I took the job, I was on shift as a captain here, then obviously took the job as the fire chief here,” Howard said. “I just felt that I couldn’t do both to the best of my ability. I felt that I needed to focus on one department rather than split my time between two.”

Howard was appointed fire chief in Madison in June 2014, after the retirement of longtime chief Roger Lightbody.

He was appointed fire chief in Skowhegan in September 2014 by Town Manager Christine Almand. Howard succeeded former Fire Chief Richard E. Fowler Jr., who was fired by Almand in August of that year after just three months on the job amid a criminal investigation involving the Fire Department in Farmington, New Hampshire, where Fowler had been chief during the period covered in the investigation.

Fowler was sentenced in July this year to serve a minimum of three years in a New Hampshire prison and ordered to pay back more than $200,000 in embezzled money he used for prescription drugs and a gambling addiction.

Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis said the town’s two deputy fire chiefs, Don French, at Company One, and Dan Bosworth, at Company Two in East Madison, will take the reins of the Fire Department until a vote of the full department is held at the end of the fiscal year in June.

“They agreed with Chief Howard that they would essentially would perform as acting chiefs through the rest of the fiscal year,” Curtis said. “Then they will take a vote amongst the members in June as they put forth candidates for chief.”

The monthly stipend of $750 given to Howard is to be split between French and Bosworth.

Howard grew up in Madison and graduated from high school in Skowhegan in 1996. He lives in Cornville with his wife, Theresa, a registered nurse, and their two sons.

The Madison and Skowhegan departments always have worked together, even sharing 10 firefighters, Howard said.

Howard, who also is a registered Maine guide, a firearms dealer and a gunsmith, started as a Skowhegan call firefighter right out of high school in 1996. He was hired full time in January 1998 and enrolled at the state fire academy later that year. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 2008.

Howard runs the Skowhegan department with eight full-time firefighters, including the chief and two captains and 21 call firefighters, on an annual operating budget of about $821,000, with a $170,000 capital reserve account. The Madison department has about 22 call firefighters with an annual budget of about $110,000.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow