Jordan joins Fire Department in Bryant

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published September 6, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
Updated September 6, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

J.P. Jordan is the new chief of the Bryant Fire Department.

— Like many other new residents, the new chief of the Bryant Fire Department said he came to town because of the quality of life in the community and the good schools.

“Like a lot of people, my wife and I wanted a nice place with good schools for our daughters,” said J.P. Jordan, who took over as head of the Fire Department on Aug. 20.

“Bringing the family to Bryant is an end unto itself.”

Jordan moved to Bryant with his wife, Kandy, and their daughters, Ashlyn, 12, and Anna Kate, 7.

Jordan said he expects Bryant will continue to grow, and his job is to make sure fire protection grows along with the city.

“Mayor [Jill] Dabbs just announced that Bryant has the same fire-safety-insurance rating as Little Rock and North Little Rock,” he said. “That’s something to be proud of, and it will bring more growth. Looking down the road, this city will be something big in 10 years, and I want to make sure it has the fire department it needs.”

The city has good fire equipment, but it will need more, the new chief said.

“Stuff always wears out, and I will be looking for ways to get what we will need,” Jordan said. “We will need more stations, equipment and personnel as we grow.”

There are now three stations in Bryant and 49 firefighters. Jordan said the city’s residents can be proud of their fire department, and he will continue the work of Chief Randy Cox, who retired this summer.

Jordan is a native of Toad Suck.

“If you know the history of the name, it is not offensive, but it is funny,” he said.

Jordan said he became a firefighter because he came from a family involved in public service and because he didn’t want to sit along the sidelines of life.

“It is a common thing you hear from firefighters. We don’t want to watch; we want to get in there and be part of a solution and work it out,” Jordan said. “As for serving the community, my father was a school superintendent for Bigelow, and my grandfather and uncle were policemen in Conway. I get a lot out of helping people.”

It was a need in the community that made Jordan a fire chief in Stuttgart nine years ago.

“I had been there two years, and when the fire chief retired, two of his watch commanders went out with him. We lost 25 years of experience,” Jordan said. “Several of the firefighters asked me to apply as chief, and I said I didn’t want it — that I liked being on the line.”

Jordan applied for the chief’s position, then withdrew his name. He was then asked to resubmit his name for the position and was selected to step up and be the chief.

An experienced administrator in the Army National Guard, Jordan said he was not bothered with the paperwork of running the department, but the special qualities of command were revealed to him during a fire.

“It was in my first year as chief in Stuttgart, and we were at a house where the upper floor was burning,” Jordan said. “The roof collapsed. The three men came running out of the house from where the stairway used to be, and they were safe, but in the seconds before I saw them, I understood the responsibility I had. I was where the buck stops.”

Like other firefighters, he said, fear of a fire is not part of the job.

“We know what’s possible, but we can’t be scared,” he said. “I tell firefighters that if they do what we taught them and wear what we bought them, they will be OK.

“Being 38 years old, I believe I will have more in common with the firefighters here than an older chief would have. Our kids are the same age, and we deal with the same issues.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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