Clarendon Deputy Fire Chief Jones named state fire marshal
by Robert Joseph Baker | March 8, 2017 12:54 pm
Last Updated: March 8, 2017 at 10:34 pm
One of Clarendon County’s is serving as the state’s No. 1 firefighter.
Gov. Henry McMaster appointed Clarendon County Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Jones on Wednesday to be the new state fire marshal, a state cabinet-level position with the regulatory responsibility to ensure compliance with state fire safety regulations in order to reduce injury, death and property loss.
“I think that Jonathan is well-respected within the firefighting community, not only in Clarendon County, but throughout the state,” said County Administrator David Epperson. “This position holds a lot of responsibility, and it’s a big deal for him, but also for Clarendon County.”
Jones has previously held a position of prominence in the firefighting community, serving a term as president of the South Carolina Firefighters Association. In 2015, Jones joined that organization’s Firefighters Hall of Fame.
He said in 2015 that he felt like he was “raised by the department,” and always wanted to be a firefighter.
“My dad served as chief for years and was always a firefighter growing up,” Jones said. “It definitely feels like a family, very much so in my case because I grew up in it.”
Jones was inducted earlier this month into the South Carolina Firefighters Hall of Fame at the S.C. Fire Service Conference.
Jones joined the Clarendon County Fire Department 23 years ago, when he was just 17, as a volunteer. He worked part-time for the Manning Fire Department while attending college.
After graduation, he went to work full-time at South Lynches Fire Department in Florence.
“I came back to Clarendon County in 2002,” he said.
Jones was named deputy chief about 2012. His father, Carter Jones, was once Clarendon fire chief.
“Most every little boy wants to be a fireman at some point, I think,” he said. “I had those kind of influences growing up from my family, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to be.”
Jones said he also enjoys helping people.
“The fire service, in a nutshell, is all about people,” he said. “It’s not about you, not about the shiny fire truck. It’s about people. That’s my main motivation for being in the fire service: people.”
Jones said he enjoys being on the front lines, whether that means saving someone’s home or someone’s life, or working with fire prevention.
“I also enjoy working at the leadership level, because I believe we can inspire those to take these same types of positions in life,” Jones said.
In his position as deputy chief, Jones has served as one of the department’s recruit class instructors, and has been instrumental in bringing more young people into the volunteer fire service.
“That’s good experience that he has, because one thing he will be doing as state fire marshal is he’s in charge of the state Fire Academy,” said Epperson. “He’s previously served as an instructor at the state Fire Academy.”
Jones was previously a recipient of the Clarendon County Fire Department’s Officer of the Year Award in 2005, and he received the Jefferson Davis Medal of Valor in 2004, and was a joint recipient of the S.C. State Firefighters’ Association’s Meritorious Action Award in 1997.