Jonesboro has a new fire chief. Longtime firefighter and assistant Fire Chief Marty Hamrick will replace retiring Chief Kevin Miller, Mayor Harold Copenhaver said after a Friday (May 6) morning visit with Hamrick.
He will replace Miller, who announced last week he will retire in June.
“Based on what I’ve seen, our fire department is Arkansas’ finest, and assistant chief Hamrick obviously has played a significant role in making it that way,” Copenhaver said. “I think a transition from Kevin Miller to Marty Hamrick is a seamless and obvious decision for me.”
Hamrick, 49, joined the Jonesboro Fire Department in 1999 as an entry-level firefighter and moved up through the ranks. He has earned numerous awards, starting with Arkansas Fire Academy Rookie of the Year, and in 2017 was JFD Officer of the Year.
“I remember when he started, and he has done nothing but excel,” Miller said of Hamrick. “He loves the fire service, loves the Jonesboro Fire Department. He has been totally committed to doing everything he can to improve the department so he can provide better service to the community, and has been since day one.”
Hamrick, who grew up in Cherry Valley working on his grandfather’s farm, always assumed farming and ranching would be his life’s work. But, friends on the local volunteer force got him interested in firefighting.
“Then I found out that was something I could really do, and Jonesboro actually paid you for it,” Hamrick said.
His job has grown from the back of a firetruck to captain to division chief of training to battalion chief to assistant chief. He will lead the entire 124-personnel, seven-station, 10-truck department.
“I was pleased and honored just to be in the conversation for fire chief,” Hamrick said. “Hopefully, I can keep this place moving forward. There are a lot of big shoes to fill from previous chiefs. The Fire Department is in a very good spot. My goals are to keep up with the innovation and new technology and techniques to produce an even better product for the people we serve.”
Hamrick spoke of the growing job requirements and demands on firefighters, more as first responders in general than actually putting out fires.
“Every day, we are tasked with doing something new,” Hamrick said. “So from a training aspect, you have to be prepared for anything that can happen.”
Hamrick’s resume speaks to the growing number of responsibilities in Jonesboro’s fire department. He has 12 certifications, ranging from rescue technician to arson investigator to hazardous material technician to state Emergency Management Instructor.
“We are prepared to deal with HAZMAT situations, building collapse, urban search and rescue, confined space, swift water, high-angle rescues. There is really so much more call volume than when I started.”
Hamrick will take over the department July 1, 2022 after Miller’s June 30 retirement.