WESTMINSTER, Md. — For two years now, every firefighter and paramedic leaving the Reese Volunteer Fire Company has tried to focus on saving lives, while risking their own amid a pandemic.
Kenneth Hyde is the company’s president.
“I told the board of directors, ‘There’s a good chance I’m going to get sick and I don’t know the outcome,’” said Hyde. “For 40 years I’ve been a firefighter, and this is the first time I’ve been scared.”
That fear became a reality when COVID-19 claimed the life of Hyde’s close friend at the station---Paramedic/Firefighter Robert “Bobby” Jones.
“Me and my wife were talking to him on Friday,” said Hyde. “He said he feels better. He’s on the up swing… on the phone. On Saturday, he was being intubated and it just… it was unbelievable.”
Jones’ death is the first in the line of duty for the Reese Volunteer Fire Company and his career in firefighting dates back to the Seventies in Woodlawn where he became a junior firefighter when he was just 13 years old.
Jones became the first Black captain in Baltimore County’s volunteer ranks and retired as a fire lieutenant a decade ago, before achieving the same rank as a volunteer in Anne Arundel County in addition to his service in Westminster.
“I just think that anyone you meet will tell you Bobby was the best of the best,” said Kati Townsley, the company’s public information officer. “He was always there to offer a shoulder. He was always there to offer a mentoring opportunity. He was just there to be a friend and to encourage you to love the fire service as much as he did.”
“He’s been a great asset in Carroll County, and he’s saved many, many lives in Baltimore County before he ever came to Carroll, and then in Carroll County, he saved many lives,” added Hyde. “He’s going to be deeply missed at the Reese Volunteer Fire Company.
Jones’ funeral service will be held on Sunday at the Westminster High School Auditorium with his burial to follow in the Fallen Heroes section of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.