Fire Chief Kevin Jones will be retiring this summer after 28 years of service.
Jones informed City Manager Jim Crosby by email on Jan. 12 that he would complete his 28 years of service on July 31.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve the citizens of this community, the members of the fire department and you. You gave me the opportunity to lead this department seven years ago. I will always be grateful to you for the chance you took on me,” Jones’s email to Crosby read.
Jones began his time with the City of Yukon as a firefighter in August 1989. He then worked his way up to Driver, which is equal to the ranking of a sergeant, then to captain before deciding to apply to be the fire chief in 2010.
“The position came open and after much, much soul searching, I decided to apply for the position. I then went through the process because they opened it up to the outside so there were several candidates from other places that applied for the job. After the interviews and all that, I came out on top,” Jones said. “I never wanted to become a fire chief. The goal I really wanted to be was a captain or company officer. I wanted to be on the trucks and working that way, but you really get embedded in the organization and you really love the place. You really want to see positive change. You can either sit back or gripe about it or you can be the agent of change and try to make things the way you want to see them go. Ultimately that was my thing—I don’t want to just go in the direction somebody else wants me to go that doesn’t love the organization. I felt like my passion for this department and for the city—nobody could equal that, especially from the outside.
“I really wanted to be the one to get us to a better place for the personnel here and for the citizens.”
Jones said he can’t pick out just one favorite moment, but just seeing the department perform at a really high level makes him really proud.
“In a weird way because I think that technically they’re better than I was and that gives me great pride that they have exceeded the standard that I feel like that I set,” Jones said.
Jones said in his time remaining he gets to do the “boring stuff” as he looks over the budget for next year and just prepare the department for his successor, but it’s also an exciting time for the department as they finish up promotion tests.
There are some people within the department who are inspired to take over Jones’s position, he said, and he hopes someone internal does take over.
He said he’s proud of the command training center they have at the department and that’s one thing he hopes will continue. Jones said he also hopes the conditions of the workplace remain because he’s also proud of the respect and love they show one another.
“Of course we have fun, I’m not saying it’s all just lovey, but we treat each other with respect and love. We have very close relationships,” Jones said.
The chief said it’ll be difficult to leave and he’ll miss spending time with the people at the department because besides family his most important relationships have been within the department, but he’s soon-to-be 56 years old and just felt like it was time.
Jones lives in Tuttle at what he calls his farm, which includes a few acres they grow vegetables on. He said he likes to read, study, write and grow things. He also likes woodworking, in which he builds furniture and yard signs, and traveling. Jones said he’s traveled to Central America, India and Africa and enjoys meeting new people in different cultures.
“Our lives divided up into sections, at least mine has been. For the past nearly 30 years, it’s been public service, a lot of really very technical schools and technical journals and magazines and all of that kind of thing. But I believe that every person is creative in their own way and I would like to spend the next part of my life being creative,” Jones said.
He added that he wants to spend more time with family.
“I’d like to really spend some time with my wife because over the last 28 years, she has sometimes come in second to the job and it’s really time for her to be first,” he said. “I also have a new granddaughter and they live in here in town so I’m hoping to spend all the time I can with her.”
Jones said he really does appreciate what the city leaders have done for him and his family.
“The city has been really good to me and my family. Because of working for the city, it’s allowed me to put my kids through school, have a nice home and have a really nice life financially. They’ve done that and I’ve given them 100 percent in return so I think it’s been a fair trade,” Jones said.