Veteran Beaufort firefighter Capt. Reece Bertholf was named Fire Chief Sammy Negron's successor and will take over as chief of the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department early next year, according to a news release from the City of Beaufort.
Bertholf, a firefighter in Beaufort since 2000, will take over as fire chief on Jan. 15, 2016, the release said. Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop announced the promotion in a news release Tuesday after a review of qualified internal candidates.
The Minnesota native enlisted in the Marine Corps when he finished high school and joined the fire department full-time soon after his military service ended. In May 2000, he began volunteering with the department and became a full-time firefighter in August 2001, after his honorable discharge from the Marines.
"Capt. Bertholf brings so much to the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department and to the City of Beaufort," Prokop said in the release. "We look forward to his leadership as our new fire chief."
Negron, a fellow Marine veteran, announced last month that he would step down from his post in January to spend more time with his family as he battles multiple sclerosis. Negron had served as fire chief since 2010.
"(Capt. Bertholf) has a very strong drive, a very strong work ethic, and he is determined to continually improve this fire department," Negron said in the release. "I am thrilled at his selection as the next chief."
In his time with the fire department, Bertholf has earned several degrees -- associate's degrees in business and fire service administration from Technical College of the Lowcountry, a bachelor's degree in business from the University of South Carolina Beaufort, and a Master's degree in business administration from The Citadel. He was named the volunteer firefighter of the year in 2000, the release said.
Bertholf also helped the department earn an $84,000 federal grant to improve air quality inside fire stations, helped created a new fire department vehicle plan that increased the department's fleet size and made their vehicles more efficient, and served as a senior financial advisor to the fire chief and battalion supervisor.
Since his appointment to the battalion supervisor position in 2011, Bertholf has managed emergency service operations for the department on his given duty day, the release said.
"What a great honor, what a privilege," Bertholf said in the release of his promotion. "I am thankful for the opportunity to help the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department continue to move forward, and I am grateful for everything that Chief Negron and everyone else have taught me. We have some of the best firefighters in the southeastern U.S. working here in Beaufort and Port Royal, and I am proud to work alongside them.
"They have a deep commitment to the community and they work hard every day to protect lives and property. I'm excited to follow in Chief Negron's footsteps."