SOUTH HAVEN — Ron Wise has been putting out fires, responding to ambulance calls and leading one of Van Buren County’s largest fire departments for most of his adult life. But after 31 years of being part of South Haven Area Emergency Services, Wise will be putting away his gear in exchange for retirement.

Earlier this week in a changing-of-the-guard ceremony of sorts, Wise welcomed Brandon Hinz as the new fire chief and director of SHAES. Hinz has been with SHAES since 1999, starting as a paid on-call responder. He became a full-time firefighter in 2005 and later served as an interim captain. He will now oversee 16 full-time employees in addition to 30 paid-on-call firefighters, a communication staff and seasonal beach safety interns, while Wise will serve in an advisory role until his retirement officially begins at the end of September. Then, he and his wife, Kim, plan to take a vacation.