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Above, Ready to uncouple the hose officially opening Fire Station 6 are San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson, ninth from right and now San Marcos Fire Department Assistant Chief Jonathan Henderson. Left, Henderson presides over dedication of the new Fire Station 6, offering humor and insight for the crowd, just as the department would soon face difficult days this month including the Oak Grove wildfire.
Daily Record photos by Barbara Audet

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Jonathan Henderson

City promotes marshal to assistant fire chief

Thursday, August 31, 2023

San Marcos Fire Marshal Jonathan Henderson was recently promoted to assistant chief, according to city officials.

With all of the fires tearing through this drought-stricken landscape throughout the summer, fire safety is of particular importance to the community now. Everyone can rest easy knowing prevention is currently listed as a top priority by the fire administration office here, and that this recent staff change reflects that need.

“The San Marcos Fire department is dedicated to providing a welltrained, motivated and diverse team of professionals to deliver excellence in prevention, education programs and emergency response services to our community in a safe, responsible and efficient manner,” Henderson said.

San Marcos Fire Department Chief Les Stephens said there is no better choice for the job than Henderson.

“He was promoted up from firefighter to driver to captain. He was one of the first people in the organization to volunteer to go to paramedic school,” Stephens said. “When we created this new division, he volunteered to go there as one of the first two personnel assigned, and we brought in Kelly Kistner, who was our previous fire marshal, to head that up and get it started. Jonathan wanted to go and work under Kelly. He [had just] finished his bachelor's degree. He gained a bunch of experience while Kelly was here.”

Stephens added that Henderson started as interim fire marshal, and once he had gotten used to the duties and schedule, requested a chance to be considered for fire marshal.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” Stephens said. “It was a little bit of a process because we had to take care of some things and the meet and confer with our fire fighters association to allow the appointment to assistant chief, so that’s why it is just now becoming official. He’s been in the role for some time.”

Meet and Confer is a negotiation process designed to allow fire and police departments an opportunity to exchange ideas with the city and reach agreement on important employment issues. The firefighters meet and confer agreement was approved by city council on Aug. 1 of this year.

Henderson said he is excited about the opportunity to serve in this capacity. He said his goals for the department are to continue doing the things that they are doing well– apartment inspections and new construction technical inspections.

Henderson added that the department has been involved in a lot of public education such as the Resident-Advisor Fire Academy at Texas State University. He added that the fire department also does a good job working with other city departments– planning and development services, the water department and the police department, which is something that occurs quite frequently.

Henderson said he has goals for improvement as well.

“To expand into other areas … specifically related to prevention, capture some of what is falling through the cracks,” Henderson said. “As far as inspections and increasing our presence throughout the city.”

Stephens said in Henderson’s time in the role of fire marshal, he has done a great job.

“He’s an incredibly, incredibly bright young man,” Stephens said. “He multitasks very well. He works well with all of the other city departments. He works well with the community. He’s solution oriented.”

Henderson said those that work on the prevention aspect of the fire department–fire administration– enjoy keeping the community safe.

“We’re definitely a different part of the fire department but still very much so a part of the fire department with a slightly different mission and skill set as well,” Henderson said. “Prevention is one of the first things we hit on in the mission. We’re not the people that go out [and fight fires]– we used to be. All of the people we have in prevention, came from operations, but we don’t ride in fire trucks anymore. We don’t run EMS calls. We don’t respond to active fires, but we’re there to try to prevent them. We’re there to investigate them on the back side as well as providing the inspections across the board for new and existing construction in the city.”

Stephens said if Henderson aspires to be Fire Chief in the future, that is certainly something he could do. He said Henderson has already been looking to additional professional development opportunities.

“He’s doing all the right things, and he’s got all of the right tools,” Stephens said. “I think the sky is the limit.”

To learn more about those in fire administration go to this link Fire-Administration.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666