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Robert O. Polk
State Fire Marshal

Chief Polk has more than 40 years of professional fire service experience. In 1972, he began his career at the St. Petersburg (Florida) Fire Department. During his 24 years of service with the St. Petersburg Fire Department, he worked up the ranks to become Division Chief.


In 1996, Chief Polk accepted the position of Fire Chief in Moline, Illinois. Four years later, in 2000, he was appointed by South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges as State Fire Marshal. During his tenure as State Fire Marshal, he was actively involved in the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and participated in numerous fire and life safety programs. In 2003, Chief Polk was reconfirmed by newly elected South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to continue in the position of State Fire Marshal.


A few months later, Chief Polk had the opportunity to leave state government and represent NASFM on a full-time basis. During his NASFM tenure, he represented the organization on a national level dealing with state and federal government agencies on issues of fire and life safety. He was also active in fire and building code promulgation and appeared before U.S Senate hearings on matters of public safety.


In 2010, Polk returned to full-time fire service serving as Fire Chief/ Fire Marshal for a Special Purpose Fire District in Florida. He served in this capacity until his current appointment by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (2014).


Chief Polk has advanced degrees in Fire Administration 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 writer, and lectures frequently on various fire-related issues.


Chief Polk is married to Kathryn; they have three children and two grandchildren. Their son is a full-time firefighter/EMT in Charleston, SC, and one daughter is a University of South Carolina, College of Pharmacy student.

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Robert Polk, State Fire Marshal
141 Monticello Trail, Columbia, SC 29203
(803) 896-9800 | Office Hours: 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. | Monday - Friday except State Holidays