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Responding to emergencies is in Jones' blood

June 20, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. -- Reflecting on seven decades of volunteering for fire and fire police service, Richard P. Jones doesn't have a definitive answer for what motivated him to go to fires, accidents and severe weather events all those years.

"It's in your blood, I guess," he said.

Jones, 84, joined Waynesboro's volunteer fire department at age 16 and later turned his attention to the fire police aspect of operations. He worked his way up through the ranks and served as fire police captain from 1984 until his recent retirement.

Being captain meant Jones, who lives on Country Club Road, was accountable for turnout gear and other volunteers.

Today, Jones and his wife, Doris, continue to listen to the emergency scanner that has been a part of their lives for so long. It was that scanner's tones that called Jones to an incident anytime day or night.

"It wakes you up and gets you going," Jones said.

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He said the nature of the position meant some long hours, especially at fatal accidents, where police and the coroner were gathering information.

"We're always the first there and the last to leave," Jones said of firefighters and fire police.

Fire police go through a six-month probation with the fire department. They undergo training with the fire department and fire police, Jones said.

Training covers things like security, and traffic and crowd control, he said.

Jones, who still visits a fire hall daily, said he'll most miss the firefighters and 12 other fire police. Because they work in pairs, Jones said the fire police bond with each other at incidents.

Jones said he's heard some good-natured joking about his retirement.

"A lot of people have thanked him for the job he's done," Doris Jones said.

Mayor Richard Starliper wrote a letter on behalf of the Waynesboro Borough Council, thanking Jones for his service.

"The tremendous amount of years he has spent with the fire department and fire police is a credit to the individual's dedication in the community," Starliper said in a telephone interview Sunday.

The mayor said he's known Jones for many years, describing him as friendly and willing to help anyone. Jones has braved the elements on many days in his work as a school crossing guard.

Starliper said many people would demand to be paid for all the things Jones did for the fire department on a volunteer basis.

"It takes a lot of dedication to leave your family in the middle of the night or anytime," he said.

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