Griffin Fire-Rescue Chief Tommy Jones to retire after 32 years of service

GR-F Chief Tommy Jones

STAFF REPORT :::

Griffin Fire-Rescue Chief Tommy Jones has announced his retirement after 32 years of service.

Jones joined the department Aug. 2, 1987, at the rank of firefighter. For the first three years of his career, Jones served in the old Station 1 – the historic Griffin City Hall – and rode on the tailboard of fire trucks that did not have cab seating.

After a short tour at Station 2 on North Expressway, Jones was in September 1991 promoted to fire inspector/lieutenant.

In 1994, Jones was promoted to fire marshal.

During his service as fire inspector and fire marshal, Jones attended the Georgia Police Academy where he received his Peace Officer Standards and Training Council mandate as a police officer for arson and explosives investigations.

Jones graduated from Mercer University in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

He attended the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College at Columbus State University where he received a master’s degree in public administration.

Upon the Aug. 1, 2004, retirement of former Chief Willie Henley, Jones was first promoted to interim fire chief before permanently assuming that position in April 2005.

Jones had several major goals for the department including replacing the fleet of trucks to a more compliant and reliable state of readiness; relocating an aging Station 2, which was built in 1959, to a more modern facility that could accommodate the growing demands of the department; selecting a site for the construction of a training center; promoting higher education and advanced certifications among the ranks to increase professionalism and expanded services; elevating the department’s culture of safety and beginning to combat the growing problem of firefighter cancer; and improving the department’s ISO rating to lower insurance premiums.

Over his years of service to the Griffin community, Jones has far exceeded those initial goals.

In 2009, Griffin Fire-Rescue’s ISO rating went from a 3 to a 2. In 2015, the rating increased to the prestigious Class 1.

He oversaw the planning and transition of Station 2 from North Expressway to the SPLOST-funded complex on Ellis Road.

In October 2018, construction began on the Emergency Preparedness Training Center on Industrial Drive, and training at that location commenced in late 2019.

Under Jones’ leadership, Griffin Fire-Rescue has aggressively tackled the problem of firefighter safety by providing two sets of gear to each personnel, as well as implementing a new anti-cancer policy.

When Jones first became chief, he was the only person in the department with a college degree. In 2020 20 percent of the department’s personnel has either obtained or is in the process of acquiring their degrees in 2004, there were only two emergency medical technicians in the department. As of 2020, one-third of the department’s personnel are state certified search and rescue technicians.

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

The fleet of trucks now in use is some of the finest in the country with two aerials, two rescue squads, three engines, an all-terrain vehicle and accessory response equipment.
The city of Griffin has spent over $4 million during Jones’ tenure to update the fleet, which has improved response times and capabilities, as well as lowering maintenance costs.

Jones has also 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 the University of Georgia-Griffin Campus and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring a 12-week executive certificate of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to the local campus.

He was also the driving force behind the Gordon State College Weekend College bachelor degree program.

Jones is an avid writer and presenter who has secured more than $1 million in grant funds for the purchase of trucks and advanced rescue equipment. He is a frequent speaker on many leadership subjects and has published more than one dozen articles in national publications.

In 2005, he also published a book on children’s safety with his daughter.

Jones also holds a second master’s degree in security management and is an advanced EMT and a certified emergency manager through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

In 2015, he attended the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., and has trained at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the New Mexico terrorist bomb school.

Jones served as the 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 three children, Grayson, 28, Ragan, 25 and Max, 12, and their daughter-in-law is Emily Jones.

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