ATLANTIC BEACH — The Atlantic Beach Fire/EMS Department is having a shift in leadership, but the new heads of the department are familiar faces.
Atlantic Beach Town Manager David Walker announced Monday the selection of Senior Captain Casey Arthur as deputy chief and the promotion of long-time Deputy Chief Michael Simpson as fire chief to lead the 14-member department that provides firefighting, EMS and lifeguard services to the oceanfront community.
The promotions will become effective at a formal pinning ceremony and luncheon to be held in the town’s fire station bays at noon Thursday.
The department reorganization comes in the wake of the death of long-time Fire Chief Adam Snyder, who died in a snow skiing accident in March.
The selections were made after an in-depth review and assessment of the department’s command staff by the manager and town council.
During the regular council meeting Monday, the council unanimously adopted a resolution in memory and recognition of Chief Snyder. Mayor Trace Cooper said the resolution would be mounted and delivered to Chief Snyder’s family, along with the flag that flew over the state capital on the day of his death.
“This has been a tough time for the town,” the mayor said. “One of the hallmarks of a great leader is to have officers who become leaders themselves.”
Acting Chief Simpson said Monday he’s honored to continue leading the department.
“Having worked with Chief Snyder the last 19 years, I’m hoping we can continue to develop this department and prepare the other officers to take over in the next five years, while (we) continue to improve the service we provide Atlantic Beach,” he said.
The acting chief said he was prepared to work as Chief Snyder’s deputy until one of them retired, and while Chief Snyder’s death came as a shock to everyone, the acting chief said he feels ready to follow in Chief Snyder’s footsteps.
“We don’t have any major changes (to the department) in the near future,” Acting Chief Simpson said. “We’re trying to become fully staffed again, to restructure and have some new leadership. We’ll be looking at the services we provide and how we can better serve our community. We’re still trying to recover from Chief Snyder’s loss, but every day we get closer to recovery.”
Mr. Walker said it’s a “fine testament to Adam’s legacy that he developed and mentored such professionalism as shown by these two men and their fellow firefighters during his tenure.”
“I feel highly confident in the broad range of skills that Deputy Chief Arthur and Fire Chief Simpson bring to the table,” Mr. Walker said. “After conducting the in-house review we never considered looking outside the department. Under the leadership of these two men I know that the safety of the public and the safety of our firefighters is in most capable hands. The mayor, council and I have pledged our full support to them and the department. We rest assured that the proud tradition of our fire department will continue under their guidance.”
Acting Chief Simpson said he’s also pleased with Capt. Arthur’s promotion.
“He’s been a leading captain in our department,” Acting Chief Simpson said. “He’s made Atlantic Beach Fire Department a career home for him. I look forward to continuing working with him.”
Acting Chief Simpson, 47, is a 25-year fire service veteran having served the past 19 years with the town’s department, 14 of those years as deputy chief and fire marshal. He holds an associate degree in fire protection technology from Coastal Carolina Community College and multiple certifications in firefighting/EMS services, including advanced firefighter, paramedic, fire inspection, fire code and rescue instructor, rapid intervention and technical rescue.
His prior service record includes fire departments in Beaufort and Goldsboro.
Meanwhile, Capt. Arthur, 36, has been a member of the department since 2005.
He holds numerous certifications, including paramedic, fire officer, fire inspector, fire instructor, rapid intervention, confined space rescue, high-angle rescue and technical rescue.
His career includes service with the Sea Level Fire Department.
He holds credentials from the National Fire Academy and has served as a fire-rescue training coordinator at Carteret Community College for the past eight years.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.