MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The city of Myrtle Beach has created a new city-wide managerial position to facilitate all emergency situations and preparedness within the city.
Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue veteran and former fire marshal Bruce Arnel is the man who's been chosen for the job. He started his new role as emergency manager this week.
"I'll be in charge of the EOC, I'll oversee the special events committee and I'm going to be overseeing the development and the implementation of the city's emergency operations plan, which is in effect now, but it's an ongoing living and breathing document," Arnel said. "That has to be looked at frequently and updated and kept current just to ensure that the city is prepared, and as my job as the emergency manager, it's my job to make sure that we are prepared."
Arnel said the role of emergency manager has been split between Myrtle Beach's fire and police chiefs. It's proved to be too big of a task to share, and required a full-time person be devoted to it.
With more people than ever living in the area, more tourists coming to visit, natural disasters, large festivals and everything in between, Arnel said an emergency manager has become necessary for Myrtle Beach.
He said his largest task will be making sure the city is prepared for all hazards. Terrorism preparedness is also part of the job now.
After spending 26 years as the city's fire marshal, inspecting buildings, knowing fire codes and safety measures by heart, Arnel said his new role is a great fit.
"My key focus right now is preparedness, making sure that we are prepared, going over and looking through the current plans that we have now, make sure that they're still relevant, updating them as necessary," he said. "We have a new mayor, some new council members that are coming, so it's going to be important to train them up, make sure that they're familiar with our policies and procedures."
Arnel said he reports to the fire chief, but will be working closely with Horry County's emergency manager and others in the area to adapt emergency plans, and bring changes necessary for the time.
When asked why the city would create an emergency manager position now, Arnel said a Maryland FEMA course helped get the wheels turning. Horry County and city officials across the Grand Strand attended it together this fall.
"I think once we all got in a room up there and the powers-that-be realized, 'Hey, there's a lot to this emergency management stuff,' I think it changed some minds - influenced some people - as to the fact that we need to pay a little bit more attention to what we're doing when it comes to emergency management," he said.
Arnel added his first tasks are to review and update emergency plans. He also wants to improve technology and work on geographic information systems, or GIS.
"We have a lot of technology at our fingertips in the city now. We have a lot of talented people that do great things. As an emergency manager, it's my job to make sure we bring all of those talents together, to make sure we have a common operating picture and to make sure we're all rowing in the same direction," he said.
Arnel be making a little over $92,000 annually.