Prime Living: Chuck Jordan 'living a dream' with Aiken Public Safety

·4 min read

Jun. 14—He knows the neighborhoods extremely well, and Chuck Jordan, over the course of several decades, has traveled plenty of Aiken's roads under pressure, representing the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

He once packed handcuffs and a pistol or revolver, and he now drives and operates a 2001 Pierce pumper truck and a 1996 75-foot Pierce ladder (aerial) truck.

"I'm living a dream — childhood dream," he said, with a laugh. "I always wanted to be a fireman, with the city of Aiken."

Emergency assistance runs in the family, as Jordan's wife, Susan, works as a nurse at the Savannah River Site, and his dad, the late James Jordan, worked for the city as a fireman.

"He started out working here at Station Two, back when Public Safety was split, when the fire and police were split. He became an engineer on the fire department in '64 or '65 — somewhere in there — but he also worked at the old headquarters, on Park Avenue, too," Jordan recalled.

His mom, Mary, is retired from Milner Super Gas, a now-defunct gas station and car wash once on Richland Avenue (next to Wendy's), and her current base of operations is the family's farm, just north of I-20.

Her firefighting son, now 63 years old, spends most of his working hours at Station Two, on Silver Bluff Road, a few yards from South Aiken Presbyterian Church, and his coverage zone includes areas on and around Pine Log, Whiskey, Talatha Church, Dougherty and Berry roads, with such landmarks as South Aiken High School and Citizens Park in the mix.

His commute is fairly short, as he now lives in Warrenville, having moved there in June 2018 when he and his wife tied the knot.

As for his professional relationship, he recalled, "I got hired in 1981, as a public safety officer, and I worked my way up through the ranks. I retired as a sergeant in 2013, and I came back here as a driver/operator at Station Two in January of 2014."

His work schedule typically involves 24 hours on duty followed by 48 hours off, "so most of the time, it's two days a week, and then you have a long week, which is three days a week," he said.

The best aspect of the job is the chance to help people, he said. "That's what we do. Even when I was a public safety officer, I mean, it's not all about putting people in jail. It's about helping people."

Major challenges include the task of keeping up with technology, and he leans on his younger co-workers to help him deal with that obstacle.

Jordan's family roots are in Aiken, but he came into the world more than 500 miles to the southwest.

"I was actually born in New Orleans, when my daddy was in the seminary. He was in church work — Baptist church. He was in music and education, and he got out of that and became a fireman. I remember him saying one time that the Lord called him into that work, and the Lord called him out of it."

The family moved back to Aiken just in time for the aspiring young fireman to attend fifth grade at North Aiken Elementary, and the years ahead led him through Aiken Junior High, Schofield and Aiken High, followed by fire and police training in Columbia.

The family's former seminarian served in several church roles, helping lead music in such locales as North Aiken Baptist, First Baptist of Graniteville and Calvary Baptist, also in Graniteville. "Churches would call him, and he'd go there until they found somebody to lead the singing and all that kind of stuff," Jordan recalled.

The family is known through a variety of roles.

"My daddy grew up here in Aiken, and my mama did. My daddy grew up on Laurens Street, right down from the old station — a big two-story house down there. My daddy's daddy (Leeland Jordan) ... worked for the post office, and he was a letter carrier on what they called the city route, in Aiken," he said.

"My mama's daddy was a farmer and worked for Aiken Lumber Company, cruising timber and running a sawmill. His name was Geddings Willing, and anybody that's old Aiken knows the Willings and knew my granddaddies — knew both of them."