NM fire chief to be honored nationally

Posted at: 10/02/2013 5:23 PM
Updated at: 10/03/2013 8:09 AM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Jon Tibbetts
Jon Tibbetts

Because of the government shutdown, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Maryland is closed until further notice. But a service meant to honor fallen firefighters of 2012 will still happen, at a different location – and a New Mexico firefighter is set to be honored.

“Integrity, honesty, and gentleness all made him a natural born leader,” Sandoval County Fire Chief James Maxon said.

That’s just one line of a biography page written to remember former Sandoval County Fire Chief Jon Tibbetts. He died in a car accident last July, but friends and co-workers know him for what he achieved in life.

“He was passionate about his job, he loved the people who he served, he took very good care of his employees,” Maxon said.

That passion, love and care live on in Sandoval County.

“You can see his footprint all over the organization,” Maxon said.

A new fire station is named for him, and inside, a photo and his bunker gear remind everyone who enters of his service. This weekend, he’ll be remembered nationally – as 5,000 people honor Tibbetts and 72 other firefighters lost in 2012.

“His name will go permanently on a wall that's there at the Firefighters academy and it’s just another thing to make sure his memory lives on forever,” Maxon said.

That wall is closed because of the shutdown, but organizers are working to open it for at least a day – so families attending the ceremony can see the names of their loved ones.