Kevin and Mandie Jones aren’t just committed to each other; they are also committed to the Lowell Area Fire Department. The married couple share a love for public service which they put into action as firefighters and first responders.
“I think a lot of people think there is glory in it,” Mandie says. Some people might have the misconception that firefighters join a department for their own self-gratification, but most of these public servants put in long hours without any expectation of recognition or accolades. They do it because they love their community and want to help its members.
For the Joneses, being a part of the Lowell Area Fire Department means juggling family and jobs along with answering calls and meeting department training requirements. However, they say the sacrifices are worth the rewards that come from knowing they make a difference in Lowell.
Two Paths to One Profession
Kevin and Mandie took different routes to their current roles in the Lowell Area Fire Department. Kevin, 30, says he always knew he wanted to be a firefighter.
“I’ve wanted to do it ever since I was a little kid,” he explains. He started the fire academy in high school which meant six days of study each week. “It was probably the best decision I ever made,” Kevin notes.
Once he graduated, he joined the Bowne Township Fire Department in 2009. After some time, he also began working as a paid on-call firefighter for the Lowell Area Fire Department and worked for both agencies for approximately three years. In the end, it was too much to manage calls for both departments, and about five years ago, Kevin committed to the Lowell department.
Today, the 13-year firefighting veteran serves as a lieutenant for the Lowell Area Fire Department.
Meanwhile, Mandie has one year of experience under her belt as a firefighter. She was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula and has lived in Lowell for 20 years. It was Kevin’s involvement in the department that spurred her to try out for the force.
“I finally thought, I’m 45 and I haven’t done the things I want to in life,” she remembers. Already involved in the community and a successful real estate agent, Mandie still found the prospect of trying out to be a bit nerve-wracking. “I have extremely high expectations for myself,” she notes.
Fortunately, Mandie’s love of physical fitness ensured she had no problem passing the department try-outs, and today, she is a firefighter on the force.
No Better Family Than the Fire Department
Kevin and Mandie lead busy lives, between her work as a realtor with Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel, his job with the Kent County Road Commission and their shared responsibilities caring for their young children. What’s more, the two have a hobby farm where they raise beef cattle.
However, if they ever find themselves in a bind for any reason, they know they can count on their fellow firefighters to lend a hand. “Nobody hesitates if we need a babysitter,” Kevin says as an example.
“You won’t find a better family than the fire family,” Mandie adds. “They are my brothers and my sisters. They are my people.”
Having that camaraderie is essential for dealing with the less than pleasant aspects of the job too. Calls involving children or innocent people being hurt by drunk drivers are some of the most difficult to respond to, according to Mandie. When someone comes back from a tough call, it always helps to have others in the department who can relate and are available to talk things through.
On the other hand, firefighters have responded to calls of cardiac arrests and been able to revive the person involved. “That’s the most rewarding,” Mandie says, “when they come back and see us.”
“I think a lot of people think this is all we do,” Kevin shares. But the Lowell Area Fire Department is not manned 24/7, and most firefighters have other jobs. “They don’t realize that in the middle of the night, we come from our homes.”
Firefighters also make a commitment to pursue ongoing training. As a department lieutenant, Kevin has been at the forefront of learning new skills and completing classes to help the Lowell Area Fire Department transition to an EMT department. It requires a significant investment in time, but Kevin says it’s worth it “so we can do a little more for the citizens.”