COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina's new fire marshal is returning to a job he last held 11 years ago.
Gov. Nikki Haley announced Tuesday that she named Robert Polk to replace Shane Ray, who took an executive job with the National Fire Sprinkler Association. Polk began his new job Friday, which was Ray's last day.
Polk served as state fire marshal under former Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges from 2000 to 2003.
Haley says Polk's 40 years of experience will bring the right balance of common sense and safety knowledge to the position.
The directors of both the State Firefighters' Association and the Home Builders Association of South Carolina provided statements praising Haley's choice.
Poke is the third fire marshal Haley has named since taking office in 2011. Polk's salary is $109,700, the same as Ray's.
Polk began his firefighting career in 1973 with the St. Petersburg Fire Department in Florida. He retired from that job in 1996 as a division chief, then became fire chief for Moline, Illinois, until Hodges appointed him South Carolina's fire marshal in 2000. After Hodges left office in 2003, Polk started the consulting firm RKP & Associates.
Since 2010, Polk has been marshal of a fire district about 30 miles west of Tampa, Florida.
The fire marshal is part of the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.