After nearly three decades working in the Office of the State Fire Marshal, 76-year old Harford County fire inspector William “Bill” Jiles retired on May 2.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal estimated that Jiles conducted nearly 40,000 inspections in a 27-year career. He was the one and only primary fire safety inspector for Harford County for nearly his entire career, according to a news release from the state fire marshal.
“To me, Bill has been a great employee, but he’s been a great friend to all of us,” Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci said in a news release. “Bill has always brought a laugh and smile to this job, and he can be proud of the hundreds - if not thousands - of people he has saved by his inspections. The role of a fire inspector goes mostly unnoticed by the public. But more lives are often saved through prevention than rescue.”
Jiles began his career in emergency services after joining Fawn Grove Volunteer Fire Company in the 1960s. He was hired as a firefighter with Perry Point Fire Department and later joined the former Edgewood Arsenal Fire Department. After 31 years, he retired as acaptain with Aberdeen Proving Ground Fire Department.
Jiles’ first retirement was short-lived as he returned to the field after former Deputy State Fire Marshal Michael Bond offered him a position as a contractual day care fire safety inspector. As fire codes were updated, the Office of the State Fire Marshal realized the demand for a dedicated group of full-time fire safety inspectors and Jiles was hired.
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Jiles has worked as a full-time fire inspector since 1995. His responsibilities included inspecting commercial buildings and structures to identify potential fire hazards. He checked for fire extinguishers, and ensured other safety devices were present and working. He also ensured areas were free of combustible material, electrical wiring problems, and inadequate or nonfunctional safety exits.
“I’ve enjoyed my time with the State Fire Marshal’s Office,” Jiles said in a statement. “There have been so many changes over the years, but at the end of the day, the core mission is protecting life and property from fire through the enforcement of the State Fire Prevention Code. As an inspector, when I walk out of a new building and give my OK, people should be able to walk through those doors and feel safe.”
Geraci presented Jiles with a State Fire Marshal commendation and governor’s citation, and thanked Jiles for his years of dedicated service.
“Bill has done the job of what some local or county fire marshal’s offices have five to seven guys doing. Just the workload he could handle has been incredible,” Geraci said.
Although he is officially retired from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Jiles is volunteering in his hometown, Havre de Grace, as a member of the board of directors of the Susquehanna Hose Company.
“I know he takes great pride in Harford County,” Geraci said.