New position at Horry County Fire Rescue aims to get community involved, informed

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Fire Rescue recently hired Captain Mark Nugent to be the department’s Public Information and Public Education Officer.

It’s a hybrid role aimed at getting members of the community involved and informed.

“I want to educate our citizens,” said Nugent. “There’s no glory in fighting a fire or responding to something we could’ve prevented.”

He has many goals for his first few months including taking a deeper look at the most common calls in certain areas.

“So we can hone down right on an individual community if we see certain things are affecting them,” added Nugent. “Then put preventative programs in place to keep that from happening.”

This could include CPR training in an area with several medical calls or installing smoke detectors in communities with a need. On Saturday, July 22 the department will be conducting a door-to-door Community Smoke Alarm Blitz in the Woodlawn Mobile Home Park. Members of HCFR will install free smoke alarms and give residents public education material. You can read more about smoke alarm requests by clicking: here. 

“Because I’m a one person shop I want to really hone in on what the problem is,” added Nugent. “I’m very much about data-driven decisions and data-driven programs.”

Nugent also wants to create a partnership between members of the community by speaking at schools, churches and volunteer groups and start a citizen’s fire academy.

“We’re going to teach you how to use a fire extinguisher, how to fix smoke alarms, get you out to a fire station and get you into a fire engine,” said Nugent. “Teach you what we do.”

He said it will probably take a few months to get the citizen’s academy established, and hopes people who participate in the program will become ambassadors and teach others about what they learn.

“Or they may really like what they did and join our organization. Take the test and become an Horry County firefighter,” added Nugent.