Rod Seals, a 22-year veteran of the Rapid City Fire Department, has been chosen by Mayor Steve Allender to become Rapid City’s 18th fire chief. Seals has been serving as interim fire chief since December 2016. The Rapid City Council will consider Seals' confirmation at its next meeting on Monday.
"Rod Seals is a true professional,” Allender said in a release. “Throughout his fire service career in Rapid City, and especially during the past several months in an interim chief capacity, Rod has demonstrated the leadership and management qualities to lead the Rapid City Fire Department and its personnel."
At a news conference Wednesday announcing the selection, Allender said the 14-month selection process took about two times longer than usual and was caused by a departmentwide analysis by the Center for Public Safety Management of the department’s policies and procedures and how they compared with best practices. The full report was completed in November.
“That process causes a strengthening of the department,” he said. “We’ve gone through those recommendations and have proposed actions to address them.”
Allender said the analysis and numerous interviews with fire personnel, volunteer fire members and county fire officials convinced him of Seals' aptitude for the position.
“He’s got the confidence of the fire department, the confidence of the mayor and, I believe, the confidence of the community,” Allender said.
Seals' career with the fire department began in 1995 in the operations division at Fire Stations 1, 5 and 7. In 2007, he was promoted to lieutenant while serving in the operations division at Station 1 before becoming captain of the operations division for Fire Station 8 at Rapid City Regional Airport in 2010 and later, battalion chief of the operations division, C-shift. From 2011 to October 2015 he served as division chief of fire operations before being named deputy fire chief in November 2015.
Seals holds a bachelor of arts degree in organizational leadership from Dakota Wesleyan University and an Associate Degree in Fire Science Technology from Casper College. He grew up on an almond farm near Chowchilla, Calif., before moving to Wyoming in 1990 to work with his father in the petroleum industry. In 1992, his fire service career began when he joined the Johnson County Volunteer Fire Department in Buffalo, Wyo.
“It’s an awesome honor and responsibility to become the next fire chief for Rapid City,” Seals said Wednesday.
Drafting a new strategic plan for the next five to 10 years for the department was the first issue Seals said he’d like to tackle, as well as starting the multiyear accreditation process through the Commission on Fire Accreditation. The first step of that process requires becoming a registered agency through that body and typically takes about 18 months, Seals said. He hopes to begin the process this year.