ATLANTIC BEACH — Town firefighters and emergency services employees are keeping late Chief Adam Snyder’s legacy going, as his subordinates took the helm of the Atlantic Beach Fire/EMS Department Thursday.

Town officials held a pinning ceremony at the Atlantic Beach Fire Station on West Fort Macon Road for newly appointed Fire Chief Michael Simpson and Deputy Fire Chief Casey Arthur.

The entire town council attended, along with numerous members of the town staff, fire department, police department and fire chiefs from outside Atlantic Beach.

“It’s very humbling,” Chief Simpson noted. “I’m very honored to be following in Chief Snyder’s footsteps. I promise we’ll continue to provide the best level of service we can. We’ll be there for you when you need us.”

He was promoted from his previous position of deputy chief to succeed Chief Snyder, 46, who died in a snow skiing accident in March. The late chief was widely known and respected across the state, and hundreds attended his March 17 funeral at the Crystal Coast Civic Center.

Chief Snyder’s widow Stacie Snyder pinned Chief Simpson and Deputy Chief Arthur with their badges Thursday.

Chief Simpson said he appreciates all the support shown the department by the people of Atlantic Beach and the other fire departments over the last six weeks.

Deputy Chief Arthur was promoted from his previous position as captain to fill the vacancy created by Chief Simpson’s promotion, and Lt. Scott Bell has been promoted to captain.

Deputy Chief Arthur said he’s looking forward to “moving the department forward and progressing. Chief Snyder was a very progressive chief and that’s what we want to continue to do,” he said.

Town Manager David Walker thanked the staff and visiting chiefs for attending Thursday’s ceremony.

“This is Easter week,” Mr. Walker said, “a time of new beginnings, and it’s a new beginning for the Atlantic Beach Fire Department, too. Many of the men in this department were hired or trained by Adam Snyder. His legacy lives on in this department.”

For Mayor Trace Cooper, the way they were able to find a suitable successor for Chief Snyder within the department reminded him of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball coach Dean Smith.

“When coach Dean Smith retired, we (UNC fans) were shaking in our boots,” the mayor said. “But coach Smith was a great leader who created other leaders in the Carolina family.

“Adam Snyder was also a great leader who created great leaders around him,” he concluded.

Mayor Cooper said Thursday’s ceremony was an embodiment of Chief Snyder’s legacy.

“When it came time to find someone to take his place, we didn’t hesitate to look within (the department),” the mayor said. “There’s an opportunity here to not only continue our level of excellence, but to go further.”

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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