After 16 years leading the department, Myrtle Beach fire chief to retire

Myrtle Beach fire Chief Alvin Payne, right, will retire in 2018.
Myrtle Beach fire Chief Alvin Payne, right, will retire in 2018. cslate@thesunnews.com

Myrtle Beach Fire Department Chief Alvin Payne will retire in July 2018, according to city spokesman Mark Kruea.

“He will have been with the city 42 years next March,” Kruea said. Payne served as chief of the Myrtle Beach Fire Department for the last 16 years.

Kruea said that Payne, 59, gave notice of his retirement this week. His last day will be July 3.

Payne said he will spend the coming months preparing the department for the transition.

“It feels good,” he said of his plans to retire. “I love coming to work every day for 42 years and when I leave here, I’ll have a smile on my face knowing I had a job I loved to do.”

Payne was initially an employee for the city’s parks and recreation facilities, he said. He then moved into the fire service and has been chief for 16 years.

“I think as a department, we are excited for some change and new ideas,” Lt. Jon Evans of MBFD said. “He’s been a great asset to the fire service.”

Payne’s departure comes after a long string of turnover at area public safety agencies. In May, Amy Prock took the reigns of Myrtle Beach’s police force after it was announced that 37-year department veteran Warren Gall was leaving.

Prock was named interim chief and was then hired into the permanent job about a month later. A public search for that role was not launched after Gall’s departure.

City Manager John Pedersen said that he did not “have any immediate plans” to launch a search for a new fire chief, and that Payne has cultivated strong leadership within the department already.

Payne also said he suspects that a chief will be selected from inside the department and that Deputy Chief Tom Gwyer could be the “heir apparent.”

“I want to help the next regime be ready for what they’re looking to achieve in their first year,” Payne said.

However, Pedersen will make the final decision on how to fill the opening. He said Payne’s leadership has been crucial to the department’s positive reputation.

“I’ve never had complaints, literally never had complaints, regarding the fire department’s performance,” Pedersen said. “They just do a wonderful job and that doesn’t happen by itself.”

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ