Mayor Sandy Stimpson has tapped veteran firefighter Mark Sealy as his nominee for fire chief, attempting to fill a vacancy that’s existed since shortly after he took office in late 2013. In a news conference this morning, James Barber, executive director of public safety, said filling the vacancy was one of his “top priorities” since he accepted the position April 1.

Barber assembled a team including Montgomery Fire Chief Miford Jordan, management consultant Dan Lumpkin, and Jeff Carter, director of Mobile’s Bloomberg Innovation Team. After receiving 13 internal applications for the position, the team vet the list down to five final candidates. The recommendation of Sealy was a unanimous decision, Barber said.

According to a news release, Sealy has served the city of Mobile for over 25 years and is currently the district chief of training. Prior to joining MFRD, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science, a paramedic license, and numerous technician-level certificates, among which is the Alabama Smoke Divers certificate, which Stimpson said is only held by one-tenth of 1 percent of firefighters in the state. Sealy is currently enrolled in the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

“He believes first and foremost every Mobile Fire-Rescue employee is a firefighter first,” Stimpson said, also quoting from Sealy’s proposed strategic plan, which indicated a need to “do more with less.”

Sealy, who appeared alongside his wife and two children, said it was an “incredible opportunity.”

“Our focus moving forward is the safety and health of our firefighters,” he said. “They’re are the ones that respond day and night, 365 days a year, and we’re going to focus our attention on them.”

By law, Sealy’s nomination must be approved by the Mobile City Council. The appointment does not appear on the agenda of the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting May 16.

Since Stimpson has been in office, Mobile Fire-Rescue Department has had two interim chiefs — Randy Smith and Billy Pappas — but neither has been put up for confirmation. Administration officials previously confirmed a belief that neither candidate had enough votes from the City Council to win confirmation.