TAMPA, Fla. - It’s the final week of firefighter training for 24-year-old Winston Jones and the beginning of his journey of his family's legacy in the profession.
“Winston Jones has been a great recruit,” said Tampa Fire-Rescue Captain Dan Quatrino. “He follows directions, he works hard, he’s focused on his craft.”
It’s the same craft as was practiced by his great-grandfather, Julius Jones, who joined the Tampa Fire Department in 1919.
“It seemed like he was a hard worker,” said Winston. “He loved being a firefighter.”
Pictures of Julius hang in the Tampa Firefighters Museum. He worked on some of Tampa’s first fire engines that weren’t pulled by horses.
Julius might not recognize the training his great-grandson is undergoing. We watched as Winston and fellow trainees were blindfolded and then had to put on breathing equipment, which helps them prepare for an environment of dense smoke.
But there’s a common motivation that seems to run through the bloodline.
“Growing up, I always just wanted to help people,” said Winston. “And here’s a job you can help people tremendously.”
Winston will start his service as the world battles COVID-19. When his great grandfather started, it was the Spanish flu.
By all accounts, Julius passed on his passion for service to two sons, James and Fred Jones, who both retired from the Tampa department. James was Winston’s great-uncle. Fred is his grandfather. Winston has heard many stories from his grandfather.
“He used to talk about how much he loved the job and help people.”
Now Winston continues the story.
“I like the whole aspect of legacy,” he said. “My great-grandfather, my grandfather, me, and maybe my children.”
They will undoubtedly hear the stories that stretch back through a century of service that seems to run in the family.