Leland Names Longtime Fire Chief as New Emergency Management Director

The Town of Leland has announced the creation of an emergency management role to better prepare for natural disasters and other situations that impact the community.

This new role will be headed by John Grimes, who until this time has served as Chief of the Leland Fire/Rescue Department.

“The addition of an emergency management director is something we have discussed for quite some time, and Chief Grimes is the right fit for that position, given his considerable emergency preparedness expertise, as well as his knowledge of our community and his reputation both statewide and nationally,” said Leland Town Manager David Hollis.

Grimes has served the Leland fire department for 30 years, 26 of those as chief. He became the Town’s first career fire/rescue chief in 2017, when the department became a service under the Town of Leland.

He is a past president of the Board of Directors of the NC State Firefighter's Association and the Brunswick County Fire Chief’s Association. Grimes also formerly served as a board member of the Eastern NC Firefighters Association.

“I am humbled to have worked with an incredible staff over the years and to have been part of such a great organization with a rich history and culture,” said Grimes. “That said, I am enthusiastic about this opportunity to take a more proactive role in preparing the Town and its residents for responding to disasters and emergencies.”

The ongoing spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) highlights the importance of that preparation, Grimes added.

“COVID-19 is, understandably, foremost on everyone’s minds at this time and, in a lot of ways, it’s new territory for public health and safety officials across the globe. This pandemic certainly brings to light the need for certain preparedness strategies moving forward, but there are many situations for our area – including hurricanes and tornadoes – for which ongoing planning is crucial,” he said.

In addition to focusing on preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation, Grimes plans to work with each Town department on their specific needs and to strengthen community engagement efforts through ongoing education and initiatives, such as the distribution of hurricane kits for residents.

The Town has already begun recruiting for a new Fire Chief. In the interim, Grimes will remain in his current role, while also beginning to prepare for his transition to Emergency Management Director.