SOUTH HAVEN — After conducting a five-month nationwide search for a new fire chief, South Haven Area Emergency Services’ board of directors has decided to hire a candidate quite familiar with the department and its staff.

Board members announced Friday that they chose veteran firefighter and paramedic Brandon Hinz as the department’s new executive director and fire chief. Board members are now in the process of negotiating a contract and salary with Hinz, who succeeds current Executive Director Ronald Wise, who plans to retire Sept. 30.