Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s nominee for chief of the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department will have to move from Fairhope if he’s approved by the City Council. By law, Mobile’s fire chief and police chief must live within the city limits and Mark Sealy, the nominee for fire chief, was made aware of this stipulation before agreeing to take the job, city spokeswoman Laura Byrne said Monday afternoon.
According to probate records and Google Maps, Sealy’s home is about a 39-minute drive from Central Fire Station in downtown Mobile. Byrne said Sealy has agreed to move and is currently looking for housing within the city limits. She is unaware of what the timeframe would be, but based upon the Sealys having a school-aged daughter, it would most likely be over the summer.
In the past, the fact that some members of Stimpson’s administrative team lived outside of the city has drawn scrutiny. Former chief of staff Colby Cooper, city attorney Ricardo Woods and Communications Director George Talbot lived in Baldwin County when they were appointed. James Barber, now public safety director, moved to Mobile from Baldwin County after he was confirmed as police chief in 2013. At the time, Barber told councilors he would voluntarily move back to Mobile.
Former Public Safety Director Richard Landolt also moved to Mobile from Fairhope after he was approved to the city post. He resigned early this year and Barber was appointed to replace him. Sealy was selected with help of a committee comprised of Barber, Bloomberg I-Team Executive Director Jeff Carter, Montgomery Fire Chief Miford Jordan and local management consultant Dan Lumpkin.
Lumpkin, whose office is in Fairhope, said he was aware of the “rule” that the city’s police and fire chiefs have to live within the city, but said he’d personally be in favor of lifting it. He added that each of the candidates were alerted of the rule before a selection was made.
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.
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 had been put up for confirmation. Administration officials previously confirmed a belief that neither candidate had enough votes from the City Council to win confirmation.
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