Long-time Griffin Fire Chief to hang up his boots

GRIFFIN — City of Griffin Fire Chief Tommy Jones will retire after over 32 years of service to the community.

Jones joined the department Aug. 2, 1987 at the rank of firefighter. He served in the old Station No. 1 at the Historic City Hall for the first three years of his career and rode on the tailboard of the fire trucks before the department acquired units with cab seating.

After a short tour at Station No. 2 on the North Expressway, Jones was promoted to Fire Inspector/Lieutenant position in September of 1991. In 1994, Jones was promoted to Fire Marshal. During his tenure as Fire Inspector and Fire Marshal, Jones attended the Georgia Police Academy where he received his P.O.S.T. mandate as a police officer for arson/explosives investigations.

In 1994, Jones entered Mercer University and graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor’s of Communications. He attended the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College at Columbus State University and received his Master’s Degree of Public Administration.

On Aug. 1 2004, after the retirement of Chief Willie Henley, Jones was promoted to Interim Fire Chief, then permanent Chief in April of 2005.

Under Jones’ leadership, the department saw its Insurance Services Office rating go from a Class 3 to a 2 in 2009. In 2015, the rating increased to the prestigious Class 1.

Jones oversaw the planning and transition of Station No. 2 from North Expressway to the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax-funded complex on Ellis Road. In October of 2018, construction began on the Emergency Preparedness Training Center on Industrial Drive and training commenced late last year.

The department has aggressively tackled the problem of firefighter safety by providing two sets of gear to each firefighter and implementing a new anti-cancer policy. When he first became chief, Jones was the only person in the department with a college degree. Currently, 20% of the department has either obtained or are in the process of getting their degrees. In 2004, there were only two EMTs in the department. Now one-third of the department are EMTs and an additional one-third are state-certified Search and Rescue technicians.

Jones deployed personnel from Griffin Fire-Rescue to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, the wildland fires in the Okefenokee Swamp, and the G8 Summit at Sea Island protecting President Bush and other world leaders.

Jones has sought to assist new leaders in developing their professionalism and efficiency. In 2008, he co-founded the City of Griffin Leadership Development Institute and has overseen its 12 years of successful delivery. Additionally, he worked with University of Georgia-Griffin and FEMA to bring a 12 week Executive Certificate of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to the campus. He also was the driving force behind the Gordon State College ‘Weekend College’ bachelor’s degree program.

Jones, an avid writer and presenter, has secured over $1 million in grants to the department for trucks and advanced rescue equipment. He is a frequent speaker on many leadership subjects and has published more than a dozen articles in national publications. In 2005, he published a book on children’s safety with his daughter.

Jones served as President of the Griffin-Spalding United Way and President of the Griffin Daybreak Rotary Club.

Jones is married to the former Kristin Parris and they have 3 children, Grayson, 28, Ragan 25, and Max, 12.

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