After a five-year tenure that at times was rocked by plans to close fire companies, Baltimore Fire Chief James S. Clack resigned on Friday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
Clack will leave office on July 26 and return to his home state of Minnesota to spend time with his family, he said. Last year, the city’s Board of Estimates approved an extension of his contract through July 1, 2018. His annual salary was $164,487.
Assistant Chief Jeffrey R. Segal was appointed by the mayor to serve as acting chief while a national search for Clack’s replacement gets underway, the mayor’s office said.
“Chief Clack worked successfully to increase our focus on the safety of residents and fire personnel,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.
“In Baltimore, I had an opportunity to lead the most professional and courageous fire department in the United States,” Clack said in a statement. “Under pressures from Mother Nature and the global economy, we stood strong, acted with integrity and built on the legacy of this great urban fire department.”
Segal, 44, joined the city’s fire department in 1987 as a firefighter. He has served in several positions in the department, including pump operator, captain, battalion chief, battalion commander, division chief and deputy chief. He was appointed assistant chief of operations in 2011. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in management from the Johns Hopkins University and is also a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg.
Clack came to Baltimore in 2008 from Minneapolis, after he had been named fire chief there in 2007. While he successfully lobbied for city legislation in 2010 to require installation of sprinkler systems in all new one- and two-family homes, he also ordered the controversial closing and disbanding of three fire companies in the wake of city budget shortfalls.
“In the last three years, as the city faced significant budget challenges, we reduced fire deaths to an all-time low, improved fire response times and increased citizens’ access to free smoke alarms,” the mayor’s statement said. “Chief Clack’s commitment to improving the overall operations of the department has prepared us for further achievement in the coming years.”