Are you right for civil service? Latoria Jones, mother of 4 and Birmingham Fire Lieutenant, shares what it’s really like

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Firefighter Latoria Jones during a call with the Birmingham Fire Department. (Photo submitted)

Latoria Jones knows that women can make excellent firefighters. After all, the Birmingham Fire Lieutenant and mother of four has been doing it for 19 years.

Working In Civil Service

If you’ve ever considered working in civil service, it might be worth revisiting — especially here in Jefferson County. We sat down with local Fire Lieutenant Latoria Jones with the Birmingham Fire Department to find out more:

It was Jones’ love of people that brought her to consider a job at the Birmingham Fire Department 19 years ago. In her early 20s, she was working in the home health industry. She  knew she wanted to make a life out of serving others – so she signed on with with the Birmingham Fire Department.

Latoria Jones in uniform. (Photo submitted)

Making a Difference

Since joining BFD in 1999, she has risen up the ranks to Lieutenant by way of grit, determination and passion for her profession. After 20 years, the Birmingham native says she still loves her job and the opportunity it gives her to make a difference in people’s lives.

“When people call 911 it’s usually never a good situation,” she said. “ But, for me, when you go in during those dark times and help somebody physically, or even mentally and give them a kind word if they need it – that’s what’s rewarding. That opportunity to get out and make that contact with people, and be something positive in someone’s life.”

Birmingham Fire Department firefighters at the 2018 9/11 memorial stair climb. (Photo via Birmingham Fire Department)

More Than Meets The Eye

Jones said her job is more than what the public sees while she’s on the truck, lights flashing and sirens blaring, racing to a 911 emergency. It’s also about community engagement.

“We get a chance to talk to people; to encourage and educate them on how to keep themselves and their kids safe at home,” she said. “They might not have anyone else, so you get to make a difference to that person and they know that they have someone who is listening and they can call if they need it.”

Latoria Jones pictured with fellow 2016 class of promoted lieutenants. (Photo via BFD)

Gender Equality

Jones takes a no nonsense approach when asked about what it’s like being female in a male dominated industry.  It’s not about gender, she said, but about having what it takes to meet the job requirements — something she was determined to always achieve in the department.

“It’s been proven that women can do just as good of a job, because I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years,” she said. “If there is something that I want to do, I’m going to figure out a way to do it.”

It’s that determination and support from the fire department, she said, that brought her this far.

“That’s one thing I love about the fire department, they don’t tolerate inequality or disrespect,” she said.  

Future Plans

As for the future, Jones is headed back to school in March to continue her studies in Public Safety. Her plan is to continue in the field after she retires from the Fire Department.

Jones has two pieces of advice for those wanting to enter into the public safety field:

“Believe in yourself – and do your cardio! You’ve got to be in shape to do this job!” she said. “If you love and want to help people, this would be a great job.

Birmingham Police officers at a 2018 swearing in ceremony. (Photo via Birmingham Police Department)

Personnel Board of Jefferson County

The Personnel Board of Jefferson County, the entity that facilitates hiring of employees within Jefferson County and 17 additional cities located within the County, is looking for candidates to fill a wide range of civil service jobs within the community. These civil service jobs are a part of the Merit System in Jefferson County; a workforce that consists of over 8,000 employees in more than 800 different types of jobs in a variety of meaningful professions. It is also one of the largest employers in the state!

The PBJC will be taking applications for firefighters starting February 3 until  March 23 on the PBJC JobsQuest website.


Interested in becoming a civil servant? Extensive leadership training, outstanding healthcare, upward mobility and competitive pay are just perks of the job. Here are four job openings on PBJC:

 Water Reclamation Facility Operator II – Jefferson County Environmental Services is looking for licensed Water Reclamation Facility Operators to ensure that facilities meet local, state, and federal guidelines to keep the waterways in our community clean.

Senior Civil Engineer –  This job requires a bachelors in civil engineering (or related engineering field) as well as a Professional Engineering Licence (P.E.) from the state of Alabama. Prior work experience should include assessing civil infrastructure, preparing cost estimates, presenting, preparing engineering plans as well as managing projects. Apply for this position here.

Charge Nurse – The Jefferson County Department of Health is looking for current registered nurses (R.N.) to plan, assign work and direct activities in local nursing homes clinics and hospital units. Must be a registered RN with experience in assisting providers, triaging patients and acting as a lead nurse for LPNs, PCTs. Learn more and apply for this job here.

Police Officer/Deputy Sheriff – There is a need for police officers in all 17 of the cities the PBJC serves. Duties include protecting life and property, maintaining law and order, responding to emergency calls, patrolling the city, enforcing laws and investigating criminal activity. Must have a clean background, drivers license and be physically fit. Learn more and apply for this position here.

If none of these listings interest you, there are many more on the Merit System JobsQuest website.

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Christine Hull
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