“There’s just no better feeling than to be able to help people at their most critical times,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jared Williams, Lawton Fire Department.
Working alongside his dad and grandfather, Williams became a volunteer firefighter while still in high school. He served in Elgin and eventually became an EMT (emergency medical technician) for Cyril Emergency Medical Services.
“My grandfather, Don Carr, helped organize the Elgin Fire Department and served as its first fire chief, and Dad (Tommie Williams) was one of the original volunteers for the department,” he said proudly.
In May 2000, Williams began his career at Lawton, climbing the ladder to the second-highest position in December 2019. As deputy chief, he works on budgeting, rules and regulations and other administrative issues.
“Everything we do affects our guys, so we try to make sure they have the right equipment, training and support to do their job, he added. “We had a budget meeting today and it went well. We were able to leverage some federal funds through the CARES Act and I think we’re in good shape.”
With more than 20 years as a firefighter, Williams knows that camaraderie is as important.
“When you have bad incidents, if you’ve had good training, that training takes over,” he said. “But you need to be able to revert back to your team. As firefighters, we don’t do anything alone; just like in team sports, we’re only as good as our team.”
After 9/11, Lawton Fire Department received Homeland Security grants to form a regional response team that responds to emergencies in 17 counties across southwest Oklahoma. Williams has responded to tornadoes in Moore, Bridge Creek and El Reno.
“The last Moore tornado – when President Obama was there – I was able to be part of the State of Oklahoma’s Incident Command Team and got to shake the president’s hand,” said Williams.
In 2005 Lawton Fire Department created an Assistant Training Officer position to further firefighters’ training. Williams became the department’s fire instructor, coaching firefighters in the hands-on aspect of the job.
Williams accredits his career to the community support and his involvement with team sports growing up. Elgin was a Class 2A school when he was deep snapper and linebacker for the Owls.
“Sports and education have always played large roles in my life,” said Williams. “Mom, Mrs. Evon, Coach Hitt, and Coach Flowers taught us to work hard and believe in ourselves.”
Contemplating becoming a teacher and coach, he earned a football scholarship to Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, where majored in health and physical education, minoring in mass communications. During his sophomore year at NWOSU, the Rangers were ranked No. 1 nationally, he said. Two years later Williams opted to take classes at Great Plains Technology Center.
“I knew what I wanted to be,” he said. “So, when Clarence Fortney, the then-adult career development director, opened up a few seats in the EMT class for volunteer firefighters, Dad and I took the class together.”
Williams’ maternal great- grandfather, Cecil Lamb, had been superintendent and coach at Elgin, his mother (Dorinda Williams) and mother-in-law, Loretto Ellis, were both Elgin teachers. “Mom retired after 37 years but still substitute teaches at Elgin Middle School.”
As one of about 70 Elgin Class of 1995 graduates, Williams relishes being able to keep in contact with many of his classmates, teachers and coaches. While Elgin still holds the small-town appeal, he also enjoys seeing the town develop.
“Probably about half of us were classmates from kindergarten through graduation,” he said. “Elgin’s got the enjoyment of a small community, but it’s also great to see the growth and be part of that. It’s just an exciting time for the town.”
Williams supports the district’s educators serving the Elgin Public School Foundation. He also helps youth sports like Little League baseball and Elgin wrestling and football programs.
Approximately three years ago Williams was asked to be one of the original board members of the Elgin Public School Foundation. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization raises money to help teachers and give scholarships to students. The Foundation is also working “in creating the school of excellence that we believe we have,” he said.
Williams still takes time to enjoy sports. He announces football games and wrestling matches for Elgin student-athletes. He, along with his friend and colleague Nathan Jackson, helped start and formalize the Elgin Grapplers youth wrestling program which supports Elgin’s high school wrestlers.
Three years ago, Elgin schools received an $8,000 elevated gymnasium wrestling floor via funds raised through the Elgin tournament. Williams, Ryan and Jennifer Donnelly, and several dads volunteered their time to build the floor in one weekend, he said.
Williams has served as vice president and later president for the youth t-ball and coach-pitch association. He then was baseball president of the Elgin Little League. The programs raised $10,000 to purchase two portable pitchers mounds for the youths.
“We have a good group of kids at Elgin,” said Williams. “Better than that, we have a great group of parents who let us train them traditionally.”
Williams’ wife Cynthia is an environmental specialist for the City of Lawton. They met while working together at Elgin schools and have been married 19 years. Their son, Jace, an 8th grader at Elgin, is active in football, baseball and wrestling.
“Between youth sports and our son playing travel baseball, we try to go to every event our son is part of,” said Williams. “We’ve been everywhere from Virginia Beach to Reno, Nevada, wrestling. He’s a three-time world champion youth wrestler and has won state five times.”
Williams believes positive changes are in store for southwest Oklahoma’s youth and the financial base.
“With the last CIP (capital improvement program), the funding we have coming in and seeing the Parks Masterplan and the improvements, getting this area ready to host ball and wrestling tournaments, it would be good for southwest Oklahoma not only for the kids, but financially as well.”