Emergency services director retiring after 16 years with Brunswick County

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Brunswick County Emergency Services Director Brian Watts (Photo: WWAY)

BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — Brunswick County Emergency Services Director Brian Watts is retiring after 16 years with the county.

Watts was named Emergency Services Director in early 2014. Prior to that, he worked as Brunswick County Emergency Medical Services Division Director for 12 years. Before coming to Brunswick County, he worked for Mecklenburg EMS, and spent 16 years as a volunteer with Union Road Volunteer Fire Department in Gastonia, the last two years as Chief.

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Watts has a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management from Pfeiffer University and is certified as a firefighter and in hazardous materials operations, in addition to certifications as a paramedic and technical rescuer. He is also a certified Emergency Manager, one of only a few dozen in North Carolina.

During his time as Emergency Services Director, Watts guided Brunswick County through hurricanes Matthew and Florence, as well as the recovery process from both storms.

“I have found Brian to be a person with a strong work ethic, during good times and challenging events,” said County Manager Ann Hardy. “Hurricane Florence was the strongest storm to affect Brunswick County during my 14 years working for the County, and Brian was focused and dedicated throughout the event. His decisions and actions helped protect lives and property during the storm, and helped quickly restore normalcy to our citizens in the aftermath. We wish him all the best for this next chapter in his life.”



“I know him both as an emergency manager but also as a friend,” said Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke. “He is a very kind, capable, humble professional who has served this County well. And one could always be assured that when he was on location, when he was on scene, everything was running as it should. He has always lead with a steady hand. I hate to see him retire, but I wish him nothing but the absolute best.”

“I am thankful for Brian Watts’ service to Brunswick County, particularly his leadership during Hurricane Florence,” said Brunswick County Board of Commissioners Chair Frank Williams. “Best wishes to Brian as he retires.”

Watts’s retirement will take effect Dec. 31. Fire Administrator Malcolm Smith will serve as Interim Emergency Services Director while a search is conducted to fill the position.

Smith had nearly 20 years of experience in fire and rescue management prior to coming to Brunswick County, and also served as a fire and rescue instructor at local institutions for much of that time. He holds a Bachelors in Emergency and Disaster Management from Western Carolina University and completed the Executive Fire Officer (EFO) program, a selective four-year program from the National Fire Academy consisting of baccalaureate and graduate level courses and an applied research project.