After nearly three decades of service with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, William “Bill” Jiles has retired, with today being his last official day on the job.
Jiles, 76, has worked as a full-time fire inspector since 1995. His responsibilities include inspecting commercial buildings and structures to identify potential fire hazards. He also checks for fire extinguishers and other safety devices to make sure they are on hand, and he makes sure that areas are free of combustible material, electrical wiring problems, and inadequate or non-functional safety exits.
Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci said that Jiles would be missed. “To me, Bill has been a great employee, but he’s been a great friend to all of us. Bill has always brought a laugh and smile to this job, and he can be proud of the hundreds if not thousands of people he has saved by his inspections. The role of a fire inspector goes mostly unnoticed by the public. But more lives are often saved through prevention than rescue,” Geraci stated.
Because of his work as a fire inspector, he added that Jiles was the face of the Office of the State Fire Marsal in Harford County. It is estimated over his 27-year career, he has conducted nearly 40,000 inspections and has been the one and only primary fire safety inspector for Harford County for nearly his entire career.
“I know he takes great pride in Harford County, and I want to thank him for his years of service to our community. We wish him all the best and look forward to celebrating his retirement with his family,” Geraci said.
Bill has big shoes to fill. His position will have to be advertised; in the meantime, other inspectors and sworn Deputy State Fire Marshals assigned to the Northeast Regional Office will be assigned his inspections for a seamless transition. “Bill has done the job of what some local or county fire marshal’s offices have five to seven guys doing. Just the workload he could handle has been incredible,” stated Geraci.
Jiles began his career in emergency services after joining Fawn Grove Volunteer Fire Company in the 1960s. He got hired as a firefighter with Perry Point Fire Department and later went to the former Edgewood Arsenal Fire Department. After 31-years, he retired as Captain with Aberdeen Proving Ground Fire Department. After a few short months of his first retirement, Bill was asked by former Deputy State Fire Marshal Michael Bond if he was interested in a position as a contractual daycare fire safety inspector. As fire codes were updated, the Office of the State Fire Marshal realized the demand for a dedicated group of full-time fire safety inspectors, and Bill was one of the first hired under State Fire Marshal Rocco Gabrielle.
“I’ve enjoyed my time with the State Fire Marshals Office. There have been so many changes over the years, but at the end of the day, the core mission is protecting life and property from fire through the enforcement of the State Fire Prevention Code. As an inspector, when I walk out of a new building and give my OK, people should be able to walk through those doors and feel safe.” Jiles said.
State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci presented Jiles with a State Fire Marshal Commendation and Governor Citation, thanking him for his years of dedicated service.
Although he is officially retired from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Bill will continue to serve the citizens of his hometown, Havre De Grace, by volunteering his time with the Susquehanna Hose Company as a member of the Board of Directors.