Chief Lavarn Lucas is retiring next month after a 32-year tenure with the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division and a another veteran of the department will take over.
Brad Tadlock, deputy chief of operations, will take the reins June 21 after more than 20 years with the division, town manager Steve Riley said. With a month of work remaining before his departure, Lucas said he hasn't had time to reflect on his years at the helm, but he will be comfortable leaving Tadlock in charge.
"I know I'll be proud of the organization I've left behind," Lucas said. "I have every confidence in the world they won't do anything in the future but get better."
Town employees celebrated his career Tuesday with a reception at Town Hall. Lucas said that in nearly seven years as chief, he has cut costs, reduced the rate of unstaffed engines and improved response times.
The organization was also re-accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, and in 2010, the division was one of three recipients of the Heart Safe Community Award from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Eventually, Lucas plans to return to his hometown of Ridgeland, but he said he's in no rush to leave the island where he spent childhood beach vacations and the entirety of his career.
"It's as much home to me as any place can be," Lucas said. "And serving your local community, to me, is so much more rewarding than serving any other community."
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.