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When Santa Monica Fire Chief Jim Hone retires at the end of this month, Santa Monica will have lost a true guardian of public safety. The 55-year-old Hone, who will wrap up a 30-year career with the department on January 29, says he can’t wait to spend more time with his wife of 24 years, Linda.
“She was by herself for weeks at a time when I would go on disaster recovery missions,” Hone said. “I have so much to give back to her.”
And Hone is clearly the giving sort, as evidenced by his three decades of service to Santa Monica. Over that time, Hone has climbed the ranks of the Santa Monica Fire Department, starting out as a firefighter/paramedic and ending up in the role of chief, a title he has carried for the past six years.
In 1984, Hone and other members of the department purchased equipment and conducted training for all Santa Monica Fire Department members to implement one of the first Urban Search and Rescue programs in Los Angeles County. Hone also authored the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) training course for city employees, schools and the community. He has responded to six federal disasters, including the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11, 2001.
“With every federal disaster I responded to over the years, I brought back disaster relief skills and knowledge to Santa Monica,” Hone said.
On the home front, Hone served as the Operations Section Chief in the Santa Monica Emergency Operations Center following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and at the 2003 Santa Monica Farmers Market multi-casualty car accident.
“As tragic as the incident at the Farmers Market was, it showed how effective we can be in this city at disaster relief,” Hone said.
More recently, Hone reactivated the Santa Monica Fire Communications Center in January 2009, after the center sat dormant for almost two years due to an agreement with the City of Los Angeles to dispatch from that city’s regional dispatch center.
“It looked good on paper to go with the Los Angeles dispatch center, but there were so many issues, particularly a lack of familiarity with our city,” Hone said.
Looking to the future, Hone said he would like to see new storage space identified in the city for the fire department’s equipment, which is something he has pushed for during his entire time as chief. He would also like to see a new Fire Station One building, as the current facility is 56 years old.
Though he leaves the department with a wish-list, Hone feels happy with what he has achieved. So does Santa Monica Chief of Police Timothy Jackman.
“Jim has been a great colleague to work alongside,” Jackman said. “He is the epitome of a professional firefighter. On a personal note, Jim and I are friends. He was invaluable in helping me acclimate to Santa Monica and he has been fun to work with in many capacities – particularly the SuperBowl-a-thon, where he is the clear individual standout bowler of the two of us.”
Santa Monica City Coucilmember Kevin McKeown said Hone “has served our community long and honorably.”
“Jim not only came up through the ranks of SMFD, but had a tragic family history of sacrifice for Santa Monica public safety: in 1996, SMFD lost Jim’s brother, Jack, to firefighting-related causes. While we wish Jim well in deserved retirement, we will miss him,” McKeown added.
If you’re wondering what Hone will be up to in the coming years, his plan is a simple one.
“Linda and I look forward to traveling through the United States, visiting with friends and eating in as many restaurants as possible along the way,” he said.
Chief Jim Hone’s retirement dinner will be held on March 4 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel. Details will be released in the coming weeks.
Mirror Contributing Writeramy@smmirror.com