“I thank Chief Smedley for his important contributions to Alexandria over the last eight years,” City Manager James Parajon said. “His outstanding leadership has led to significant workplace improvements for our firefighters and EMS providers, while improving the quality of life in Alexandria. We wish him all the best for a well-earned retirement.”
Smedley spent a total of eight years with the Alexandria Fire Department (AFD). He began his career in public safety over 30 years ago. In 2015, Smedley joined AFD as the Deputy Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He was promoted to Assistant Chief and ultimately became the City’s first African American Fire/EMS Chief in July 2019.
“I am extremely blessed and honored to serve,” Smedley said. “The Fire and EMS service is a great way to spend your life serving others and helping those in need. Although this is a bittersweet moment, I find solace knowing the department is in a better place and there are leaders within that will continue the journey of improvement.”
Throughout his tenure as Fire Chief, Smedley prioritized continuous improvement. His accomplishments were varied, including:
- Guiding AFD through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Spearheading the build-out and opening of a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center
- Negotiating the inaugural collective bargaining agreement with IAFF Local 2141
- Improving staffing levels, diversity, and enhancing professional development and training
- Leading AFD to an exemplary community fire protection rating (ISO Class 2), which keeps insurance rates low
- Collaborating with the community to provide outstanding fire protection while maintaining zero fire fatalities
- Pioneering AFD’s efforts to start the accreditation process with the Center for Public Safety Excellence
- Finalizing construction of Fire Station 203 on Cameron Mills Road
- Collaborating with stakeholders to create an Alexandria Fire Foundation to support employees and their families
Further incorporating data analytics into decision making and improved communications.
City Manager James Parajon has appointed Jim Schwartz as Interim Fire Chief, effective with Chief Smedley’s retirement.
Schwartz, an Alexandria resident, retired in 2021 as the Deputy County Manager for public safety and technology in Arlington, Va. Prior to that, he served in the Arlington County Fire Department for 32 years, including the last 11 as Chief. Schwartz led the Unified Command effort at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, where ACFD was the lead responding agency. He has been especially effective at working on projects of regional significance.
The City will conduct a national search for the next Fire Chief. [SEE ALSO: Fairfax County and Fort Belvoir Police and Emergency Responders Honored at 18th Annual Tribute]