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February 23, 2018

Johnny Kerns elected as Orlean’s new fire chief

Orlean Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department Chief John Ray “Johnny” Kerns.
The Orlean Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in January elected veteran member John Ray “Johnny” Kerns as its new chief.

Born and raised in Marshall, Mr. Kerns graduated from Fauquier High School in 1975. He and his wife Irene live in Markham, where they are active members of Leeds Episcopal Church.

His passion for emergency service started at age 14, when Mr. Kerns joined the Marshall Volunteer Rescue Squad and the Marshall Volunteer Fire Department, which have since merged. He retired after 30 years of professional firefighting service at the U.S. government’s Warrenton Training Center.

Mr. Kerns has been a volunteer with the OVFRD since 1970, running hundreds upon hundreds of calls and earning Lifetime Member status.

Many years ago, he and his buddy Rodney Woodward responded as members of the Marshall squad to a call involving Mr. Woodward’s little brother, injured playing ball. They quickly bandaged up little Jimmy and carted him off to the hospital. Fortunately, the young one's injuries were not too severe — just lots of blood — and he healed quickly. This friendship has continued through many years between Chief Kerns and Mr. Woodward, a retired Fairfax County career firefighter, who serves as the station captain at the Warrenton Volunteer Fire C.

A longtime volunteer at the Orlean department remembers first meeting Mr. Kerns almost 30 years ago in The Plains, to help review for the upcoming EMT tests. Their studying and hard work paid off, as Mr. Kerns has risen through the ranks from EMT to firefighter to fire chief. He had served many years as assistant chief.

Founded in 1972, the Orlean company has started construction of a new station.
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