Forty years of service and counting

 

Forty years of service and counting in Maynard FD

Brian Smith
Contributing Writer

 

When Jon Harrison’s grandfather established the Maynard Volunteer Fire Department back in 1908, he probably didn’t realize that his grandson would devote 40 years of service to the organization later on. Then again, Jon probably didn’t realize that would be happening, either. At least not right away. 

Harrison didn’t start out life planning to serve as a volunteer fireman. Like most of us, he began making plans for his life and pursuing them. As he was doing this, the opportunity to serve as a member of a volunteer fire department presented itself.

“I was raised on a dairy farm east of town and learned pretty early that I didn’t want to do that type of work all my life,” laughed Harrison.

Upon graduating from high school Jon attended barber school, was drafted into the army, got married, worked as a barber along with his late wife, Wanda, (a beautician) at their own shop, and finally began working for the DOT. While in the midst of all of this, Jon decided to accept an invitation to join the Maynard Volunteer Fire Department in 1972. At that time there were only 12 spots available to be filled, and getting one was partially dependent on having a phone line that could be used to contact members when calls came in.

“They used to use one long continuous ring to your home phone that would alert you that it was a fire call,” remembered the longtime volunteer.

There have been lots of changes in the department since that time. Pagers have replaced the telephone as a means of summoning the firefighters, there are now 26 firemen and first responders on the squad, and training is a requirement to be a volunteer fireman. 

In fact, Harrison was one of the first five volunteer firemen in Fayette County to be certified as Firefighter I. Since then, he has taken part in numerous trainings to stay certified and taken his turn at conducting training for others, as well. The amount of training and the degree of professionalism with which local volunteer fire departments perform their duties are some of the biggest changes that he has observed.

“The equipment that we use requires us to operate as professionally as possible,” stated the veteran firefighter.

The equipment the department uses is costly but necessary. The department is grateful to have it, and appreciative of the community support that enabled them to purchase it.

“Some of our equipment is very expensive. Thankfully, we may not have to use some of it a whole lot, but when it is needed, it is better to have it than not have it,” said the appreciative fireman.

During his 40 years with the fire department, Harrison has served in several capacities. He was chief for two years, assistant chief for 12 years, and lieutenant for eight years. His duties during calls are mainly to run the pumps and charge the lines, ensuring that water is flowing through the hoses when needed.

When asked about any memorable calls that he had been on, the 66-year-old Maynard resident recalled one in particular. In the early 1980s on a cold January night, there was a call for an apartment fire right across the street from the station in town. Though it sounds routine, it was anything but routine that night.

“I looked at the bank sign and it was 23 degrees below zero, and the wind was blowing hard. Things kept freezing up on us, and it took a long time to take care of that one,” recalled Harrison.

If you talk with Jon for any length of time about his years as a member of the department, his desire to be of service to others is evident. 

“Reassuring people and having some part in helping them get over a tragedy or some bad luck in their lives gives me a good feeling,” related the now retired DOT worker.

Harrison also gets enjoyment out of the friendships he has formed in the department while serving. He describes his colleagues as a dedicated group of individuals who take their duties seriously and treat each other like family. Whether it be responding to a call, conducting business at monthly meetings, undergoing training, or checking and maintaining the department’s four vehicle units, they always give full attention to detail and preparation.

One of Jon’s other tasks is to take pictures and keep a scrapbook for the department. He enjoys keeping a record of the various events that the firefighters have been involved in over the past several years. As you look through the collection of pictures that he has put together, you see mostly pictures of everyone else. There is no doubt, however, that Jon Harrison continues to leave a lasting impression of his own on the Maynard Volunteer Fire Department.

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