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Deputy Fire Chief Tom Gwyer named to succeed Alvin Payne as Myrtle Beach Fire Chief

A 25-year veteran of the Myrtle Beach Fire Department will succeed a 39-year veteran as the next fire chief for the City of Myrtle Beach.  City Manager John Pedersen announced today that Deputy Chief Tom Gwyer will be promoted to Fire Chief upon the retirement of current Fire Chief Alvin Payne at the end of June. 

Deputy Chief Gwyer literally grew up in the fire service.  He began as a volunteer at age 16, then was hired fulltime by the Myrtle Beach Fire Department in April 1993.  Tom graduated from the department’s Recruit School No. 1 and rose through every position in the ranks, beginning as a firefighter/paramedic and becoming deputy chief in April 2016. 

Chief Gwyer has bachelor’s degree in political science from Coastal Carolina University and a master’s degree in leadership from Grand Canyon University.  He also is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s prestigious Executive Fire Officer Program and is only the 11th person in the program’s 30-year history to complete all four research projects with perfect scores. 

In 2002, Chief Gwyer was named the Fire Department’s Employee of the Year.  He also has received several Lifesaving Awards during his career.  In 2015, Tom was inducted into the FEMA Research Roll of Honor.  Also in 2015, he was named a Motorola Future Leaders Scholar through the International Association of Fire Chiefs. 

“Chief Gwyer is the logical choice to lead the next generation at the Myrtle Beach Fire Department,” said City Manager John Pedersen.  “Tom is committed to the fire service and to the department’s staff.  His career speaks for itself, and I am delighted to announce his promotion to fire chief, effective July 3.” 

In addition to his duties with the Myrtle Beach Fire Department, Chief Gwyer is a member of the state’s regional Type-3 FEMA Incident Management Team and was deployed to Texas in support of Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. 

“My thanks go out to the city and the Fire Department staff for this opportunity,” Chief Gwyer said.  “I look forward to continuing the progress that the department has experienced under Chief Payne’s leadership and welcome the new challenges that lay ahead.”

Chief Gwyer also is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and serves on the Program Planning Committee to develop the annual Fire-Rescue International Conference.