Eric McDaniel, who has served as a firefighter, firefighter captain, EMT and paramedic for Liberty Fire Department over the course of the last 14-plus years, has three new titles to put in front of his name – assistant chief, assistant emergency manager coordinator and fire marshal for the City of Liberty.
His promotion was announced by Fire Chief Brian Hurst at the start of the Liberty City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13. His first day in the new role was Monday, Sept. 12.
McDaniel, 37, grew up in Liberty, graduating from Liberty High School in 2004. He attended Lamar University where he pursued general studies before transferring to Lamar Institute of Technology to pursue firefighter training.
“When I was in high school, I had wanted to be a firefighter. Then I planned to go into a criminal justice program, but while I was taking classes at Lamar University, I knew firefighting was the direction for me, so I enrolled into LIT,” McDaniel said. “That’s where I went through the firefighter academy and earned my EMT academy certification.”
After finishing those programs, he began looking for employment with fire agencies in the area, even though his ultimate desire was to be hired on with the City of Liberty.
“This was the department I wanted to work for. I had applied everywhere. Liberty was one of the first departments to call me and I accepted right away. I started with Liberty and have been here ever since,” McDaniel said. “I am honored to now be in this position.”
At 37, he still is considered to be a young assistant chief. McDaniel says he has the training and certifications for the job thanks to the City of Liberty and the tutelage of Chief Hurst.
“The City has invested a lot of money in my training,” said McDaniel. “I have known Chief Hurst for a long time and we have a good working relationship. Our vision for the department is going in the same direction. I just want to continue his vision.”
Hurst is confident that McDaniel was the right person to be assistant chief.
“Eric is not only going to be an asset to the fire department but to the entire city for many more years to come,” the chief said.
As assistant chief, assistant emergency management coordinator and fire marshal, McDaniel will have a wide range of responsibilities assigned to him.
“As fire marshal, he won’t be just investigating fires. He will be doing yearly inspections of businesses, helping with pre-planning and building permits, and doing inspections of food trucks and gas stations,” Hurst said.
Liberty Fire Department has 21 full-time members including Hurst and McDaniel. As supervisors, they are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are required to work Monday through Friday. The fire department has three shifts with six firefighters on duty at all times working a schedule of 48 hours on, 96 hours off.
McDaniel, the son of Randall and Terri Searls of Liberty, is married to Kristy Smart McDaniel, daughter of John and Carol Smart of Liberty. The couple has two daughters – Caitlyn, 10, and Carleigh, 5 – and makes their home in Liberty.