J.R. Haney

The Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District Board of Directors met Monday, March 23 by teleconference due to the COVID-19 virus. The organization met to receive an update on COVID-19 preparation from the fire department and to announce the new Fire Chief.

It was announced that Interim Fire Chief J.R. Haney will take over that role.

The Board of Directors said that they met around two weeks ago and over the course of two nights interviewed multiple candidates, one from as far as Turkey.

Chief Haney has been with the fire district since 2002 when he started as a part-time paramedic. He was hired as a full-time firefighter/paramedic one year later.

He was promoted to Engineer in 2006, EMS Captain in 2010 and has been the Assistant Fire Chief since 2012.

Chief Haney said that he is excited for the opportunity to continue moving the department forward in both Fire and EMS and knows how big of an honor it is to be taking over for Chief Norman Knight who retired back in January after a 40-year career.

“I had an excellent mentor through Chief Knight who shared much of the wisdom that he had gained in over 40 years in the fire service,” Chief Haney said. “I hope to be able to combine what I’ve learned through him, with my own experiences in Emergency Services and HR to help create an even more progressive and responsive department.”

Chief Haney said that he is already part of a strong organization but will continue to work with the Board of Directors to fulfill his vision for the future.

“I will have a renewed focus on recruitment of new personnel to fill current openings and retention of current seasoned personnel to keep them happy and excited to come to work,” he said. “As obvious as it may be, it still bears repeating that no matter how many fire engines, medic units, or stations we have, we can’t do what we need to do without people. With that said I am thankful to lead such a great group of individuals, that I have to say, are second to none in the area. Outside of the focus on personnel, larger goals would include a fully-staffed fourth medic unit, and the preparation for a fifth fire station to accommodate those that are in the northern part of 707 in our Fire District. As we all know this cannot happen without proper funding and support from the community, I plan to work diligently with not only our Board of Directors, but our legislative delegation, and most importantly, the citizens of our Fire District to better explain our current and future needs. My motto has always been, “do what’s right, not what’s easy.”

Chief Haney said that his department will continue to serve the citizens of the county and has a message for them.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to lead YOUR fire department and we will give you our absolute best in fire and EMS services,” he said. “We as a District pledge to you, our public, that we will continue to train as hard as we can in both fire and EMS modalities, treat you with respect no matter who you are, be good stewards of the equipment you’ve given us, and will stop at nothing to take care of the community for which we were chosen to protect.”