VOLUNTEER Captain Robert Jones proves that childhood dreams can come true, "if you are willing to work for them," he says.
At age 10 he dreamed of being a fireman. When he was 13 and his family moved from the city to the Woodlawn area, he joined the program for junior volunteer firemen at the Woodlawn Volunteer Fire Company. He's been there ever since.
When he was 16 he became eligible to ride the truck as a trainee member and over the years was elected by his co-firemen as a sergeant, 1st lieutenant and then 2nd lieutenant. Last year, when he was 27, they elected him their captain.
Jones was the first black captain in Baltimore County. He hopes he is setting an example for others to follow.
"I have a great job, and every day there is something different and something exciting in providing an essential service to the community. Seeing a person's face when they are helped is worth it all."
He laments the fact that the junior program is no longer active at Woodlawn, but he hopes that when the company's new building is finished -- it is being built next to the old one -- many programs can begin.
"This new building . . . will provide community shelter during environmental disasters, and we need funds to build it.
"Our company has provided fire and rescue services to the community for 45 years, and donations from the community will be an important part of our success in raising the $1.3 million, which is our goal," he says. Send donations to Woodlawn Volunteer Fire Company, 6423 Windsor Mill Road, Woodlawn, 21207.
Jones is trained in fire suppression and emergency medical service, including cardiac rescue. He is not only a volunteer fireman, he is also a paid professional fireman, terming his job at Station 57 in the Baltimore County Fire Department as his career job where he works two 10-hour days and two 14-hour nights and is then off for four days, most of which he spends at Woodlawn.
He says he's had only one life-threatening experience as a fireman. "We were answering a call for a car fire and were coming off a ramp onto the beltway when a car swerved, almost hitting us and cutting our exit off. I was standing on the truck
and the engine went one way and the part I was on went the other, and I just barely missed flying onto the beltway. It was scary," he says.
Jones lives in Woodlawn with his wife, Judy, and their 3-year-old daughter, Brittany. Judy Jones is a dispatcher for the Howard County Fire Department. "We try to get off alone as much as possible, and of course we give Brittany most of our attention," he says.
Other volunteers at the Woodlawn fire company include John Fuchs, who is in charge of administration duties, and Leroy Burch, who heads a board of nine members. The company has 100 volunteers on its list but only about 30 are active.
Jones says his goal is to increase the participation of current members and generate interest and attract new members. "We have a recruiting committee, and we need a whole host of behind-the-scenes helpers other than being a fireman," he says. "Volunteers are needed for office work, fund-raisers, as mechanics and other organizational help," he adds.
To volunteer to the Woodlawn Volunteer Fire Company, call its recruiting committee at 265-8666.