When Midway Fire Rescue Fire Inspector Mike Morris is investigating a fire, he does more than just look at what has burned. He also listens to the radio traffic and talks to firefighters who were on the scene.
“(I) try to keep an open mind,” Morris said. “I try to go by what I actually see, not by what I think at that moment.”
Morris, 52, is a native of Bloomingvale in Williamsburg County. After he graduated from high school, he served in the Army.
“When I got out of the military, I knew I wanted to do something service-oriented, either law enforcement, the fire service or I was going to become a nurse,” he said.
Morris chose firefighting and spent about 15 years working for the City of Georgetown before joining Midway about eight years ago.
Along with investigating fires, Morris and Midway Fire Marshall Todd Blomdahl take care of code enforcement and buildings inspections.
Morris said one of the challenges of fighting fires at the beach, especially on Pawleys Island, is wind.
“Every time I’ve ever gone over there, the first thing I notice is there’s always wind blowing,” he said.
Morris has also been trained in public outreach and spends time conducting programs for kids at schools and libraries – and for adults, too.
“I think it’s vital,” Morris said. “Any time we get a chance to interact with the general public … we increase awareness. Hopefully it’s going to make you safe.”
Morris said the Pawleys Island/Litchfield area used to be like a retirement community, but as the population got younger, Midway became like a “fitting station” for car seats.
“That was one of those things that we saw there was a need,” he added.
When Morris was a young firefighter, he used to hope a call would come in. The one day he realized that was a “crazy” way to think.
“We get to do our job because somebody has lost something,” he said.
Morris said “God willing” he’d like to work for another four or five years and then retire.
“I’d like be able to try and make a difference while I’m here,” he said.
Morris and his brother are already planning on working together in their own business after his firefighting days are over.
Morris is single and has two daughters, Michelle, 23, and Maya, 18.
When he’s not working, he likes to read and hang out with his family.
What would his best advice be for a new firefighter?
“Try to keep a good attitude, listen a lot more than (you talk), definitely try to be a team player,” Morris said. “Once you understand what is expected of you, make sure your standard is one step above what that minimum requirement is.”