Outgoing Summerville fire chief reflects on time served ahead of retirement

Summerville’s fire chief is retiring next month after 30 years of fire service in the Lowcountry.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 3:16 PM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2023 at 6:38 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Summerville’s fire chief is retiring next month after 30 years of fire service in the Lowcountry.

Chief Richard Waring IV says it’s bittersweet, as the department is his second family.

He followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a firefighter right out of high school, and becoming chief of Summerville Fire & Rescue later down the road was a full-circle moment.

The Summerville native says being chief has been very fulfilling.

The role has allowed Waring to introduce new ideas to the organization.

Since becoming chief in 2011, he oversaw the rebuilding of the department’s training facility and the construction of four fire stations.

He spent 20 years with the Charleston Fire Department, where he gained knowledge that he’s shared with Summerville since becoming chief.

“Going through the lows of the tragedy of Sofa Super Store in Charleston, the lessons learned from that, and all that I learned prior to being in that incident and after, I was able to bring a lot of those lessons up here and institute them into this organization, and I feel like we’ve really grown from it,” Waring said.

Waring has grown his staff from 90 to 110 in the last six years, mainly to prepare for Summerville Fire Station 6, set to open at the end of next month, and he also put a strong emphasis on training.

“We’ve increased our training staff,” he said. “Training is just such an important aspect of the job. We don’t respond to a building fire every day in the Town of Summerville, fortunately, but at the same time firefighters have to be ready to respond to a building fire as if we do respond to one every day. So, being able to grow that training staff, to help make that happen and keep our skills sharp was another big aspect of the job.”

Waring says being a firefighter is the greatest job in the world, and it’s given him so much throughout his adult life.

“I look back on 30 years, and I look at the things it’s provided me personally, the way I’ve grown from discipline to work ethic and the value of teamwork and the importance of good, strong leadership,” Waring finished. “Those are just lessons that you pick up along the way with this job that you don’t even realize you’re taking in until you start looking back and reflecting, but yeah, it’s been great.”

Once he moves on to his next life chapter, Waring hopes the men and women at the department continue to strive for greatness every day.

“Keep helping one another, keep working each other to work up the ranks in the department,” Waring said. “The fire department is funny, a guy like me retires and everybody shifts up, so when people shift up the rank structure, they’ve got to be able to look back and pull the next guy behind them up too. So, I just hope to see that trend continue, and keep the family atmosphere alive.”

Waring’s last day with the department is June 23.

Deputy Chief Brent Melcher will be taking over for Waring.