Call to serve: Poplarville has new fire chief

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015

new chief: Jonathan Head was recently named fire chief of the Poplarville Fire Department.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

new chief: Jonathan Head was recently named fire chief of the Poplarville Fire Department.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

This month, the Poplarville Board of Aldermen appointed Cpt. Jonathan Head as fire chief of the Poplarville Fire Department.
Head was named interim fire chief after longtime county emergency and fire service employee Bobby Strahan retired in April.
The 30-year-old Pearl River County native was raised in the McNeill area and graduated from Pearl River Central High School. His parents are Hilton and Wanda.
During his high school career, Head participated in a cadet volunteer firefighter program.
“My first call was a bad wreck and someone was trapped inside,” Head said. “I was able to help them get medical care and at that point, I was hooked. My career path changed.”
After high school, Head worked for a sod company and as a jailer for the Picayune Police Department.
In 2003, he began his career as a firefighter at the Poplarville Fire Department.
“Because there are not a lot of men on shift, we have more responsibility and handle everything from fire rescue, medical calls and hazardous materials,” Head said. “Our firefighters are more directly involved in public information activities. For those of you that have a strong passion for the career, this is a great place to expand.”
While still young in his career, Head said he wanted to work for a bigger department and in July 2005 he became a full-time firefighter for the Bay St. Louis Fire Department.
However, Head said he didn’t expect one of the worst natural disasters to occur during his tenure there.
On August 29, 2005, the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city. Head worked alongside his fellow firefighters to rescue those stuck in the storm’s path.
“I hope that’s as tough as it gets,” Head said. “We went out and rescued people from the floodwaters and used the Senior Citizen Center on Bookter Street as a shelter. Once the wind, rain and flooding receded, we went out once again to complete search and rescue.”
Head said working a disaster of that magnitude helped him realize how state and federal agencies work together. He also witnessed the extent of the fire service brotherhood.
“We took a physical and mental beat down during the storm,” Head said. “However, our morale was boosted when we saw firefighters from all over the nation arrive to help us out. I met many excellent firefighters and observed leadership at all different levels”
During his two years as a Bay St. Louis firefighter, Head also worked part-time at the Poplarville Fire Department.
He returned full-time to Poplarville in July 2007 as a captain, where he became certified to teach a fire prevention program to elementary and preschool students.
In 2008, he married Anna. The pair has a son and daughter and another baby on the way.
Head said his wife is his greatest supporter.
“I can’t thank her enough,” Head said. “There have been many times I’m woken up in the middle of the night and recently was deployed to Louisville after the tornadoes. She takes care of our family and puts up with a lot being married to a fireman.”
Head said his parents were also a great inspiration to him.
“My dad worked in law enforcement and they were whom I looked towards in furthering my career,” Head said.
Head said he was surprised when he was named fire chief, and is thankful for the opportunity.
“The guys here are great and supportive and we will continue to provide the best service as possible to the citizens of Poplarville,” Head said. “I enjoy having the ability to help people. Being a firefighter is truly a calling and not everyone can do it. I’m thankful I can help those in bad situations. We are there to bring reassurance, help and calm to people.”
The Poplarville Fire Department is home to 25 paid and volunteer firefighters and all are professionally trained, Head said.
“They are what makes this possible for me,” Head said. “Without their hard work and dedication, I couldn’t be fire chief. They do amazing things and I’m grateful to work with them. I’m very proud of their hard work and dedication.”

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