Chief Polk has over 40 years of professional fire service experience. He began his career at the St. Petersburg Fire Department. During his years of service with the Department, he worked in various staff and operations positions and achieved the rank of Division Chief. Throughout his tenure, Chief Polk was actively involved in firefighter training and served on the Florida Bureau of Fire Standards and Training curriculum committee.
Upon retirement, he accepted the position of Fire Chief in Moline, Illinois. Four years later, he was appointed by then South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges as State Fire Marshal. During his tenure as State Fire Marshal, he was responsible for the management and administration of the South Carolina State Fire Academy, operating from a home campus and five regional offices and supervising full-time staff and approximately 150 part time instructors. Chief Polk was reconfirmed by the newly elected South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to continue in the position of State Fire Marshal.
As a fire safety consultant, Polk has represented fire service interests on a national level and has dealt with state and federal agencies on issues of fire and life safety and training initiatives. He was also active in fire and building code promulgation and appeared before U.S Senate hearings on matters of public safety.
He returned to the Florida fire service serving as Fire Chief of the Pinellas Suncoast Fire Rescue District. During his time with PSFRD, he served as Vice-President and President of the Pinellas County Fire Chief’s Association and was a member of the St. Petersburg College Fire Academy Advisory Board. He served in this capacity until he was reappointed as South Carolina State Fire Marshal by then-governor Nikki Haley.
Chief Polk is certified as a Firefighter II, Fire Officer, and Fire Instructor III, has advanced degrees in Fire Administration (SPC) and Business Management and is recognized by the National Fire Protection Association as a Certified Fire Protection Specialist. He has served on several national committees, is a published author, and has lectured on various fire related issues.