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Ankeny Fire Chief James Clack named 2019 Career Fire Chief of the Year

Post Date:08/09/2019 9:41 a.m.

James Clack portraitThe City of Ankeny is proud to announce Fire Chief James Clack received the 2019 Career Fire Chief of the Year award from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Thursday. Each year since 1996, the prestigious Fire Chief of the Year award has recognized one volunteer and one career fire chief. John Morrison, of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department received the volunteer award.

“Chief Clack has done an outstanding job leading the Ankeny Fire Department and has been a strong contributor to the Ankeny management team the past five years. He has prioritized public safety and service and has established himself as a servant leader who gets things done with the equanimity required of a public safety chief. On behalf of the city organization, I congratulate him on this outstanding accomplishment, which he earned through a career of achievement and success,” said Ankeny City Manager David Jones.

A selection committee appointed by the IAFC reviewed nominations for active chiefs of departments that have shown exemplary contributions in the areas of leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity, public service, and contributions to the fire service.

“I was very surprised when I learned that I had been selected by the IAFC as Fire Chief of the Year. Many of my fire service mentors and heroes are on the list of past recipients of this award. I want to thank Pierce Manufacturing for sponsoring this award and all of my co-workers and fire service friends who nominated me and continue to work so very hard to keep us all safe,” said James Clack, Ankeny Fire chief.

“Chief Clack and Chief Morrison are exemplary leaders who embrace their work with professionalism, tenacity, compassion and an ability to inspire others. On behalf of the Pierce Manufacturing team, I’d like to share our appreciation for their work, as well as extend a warm congratulations to Chiefs Morrison and Clack,” said Jim Johnson, president of Pierce Manufacturing.

About Career Fire Chief Honoree – James Clack, Ankeny Fire Department

Chief James Clack’s distinguished career in the fire service began over 33 years ago. Starting in 1986 as a rookie firefighter at Station 6 in Downtown Minneapolis, and moving up the ranks over the course of the next 20 years, Chief Clack was able to demonstrate excellent leadership abilities. This led to his appointment as Fire Chief with Minnesota’s largest fire department in 2006. A few years later, as an Executive Fire Officer, he became the first Fire Chief appointed from outside the fire department in the history of Baltimore City, Maryland. Most recently, taking on an entirely different challenge, Chief Clack was sworn in as Chief of the Ankeny, Iowa Fire Department in 2014, a suburban community that is considered to be one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

In addition to his commitment to fire service, Chief Clack has embodied servant leadership and a passion for mentorship as an Army veteran, a volunteer animal rescue pilot and a Catholic Deacon. While serving as Chief in Baltimore, he re-established a non-profit foundation to financially help firefighters and their families who are hurt in the line of duty. Based on his many accomplishments in the fire service, he was named an “Outstanding Alumni” at the University of Minnesota-Crookston in 2010. His caring and compassionate personality extends to how he manages his personnel. All department members are taught “Chief Clack’s Leadership Values” – concepts that have proven to contribute to organizational success. Some of Chief Clack’s other notable accomplishments include:

  • Served as the Unified Incident Commander for one of the largest emergency incidents in Minnesota history when the Interstate 35W Bridge collapsed over the Mississippi River in Downtown Minneapolis. Chief Clack’s leadership abilities and command presence brought together local, state, and federal agencies to manage an incident that is widely regarded by many as one of the best managed disasters in recent history.
  • During his tenure as Fire Chief, Baltimore became the largest city in the United States to require residential sprinkler systems in single-family dwellings. He led a successful effort to install smoke detectors with 10-year lithium batteries in thousands of homes and also partnered with John Hopkins University to complete in-home fire safety inspections in some of the most impoverished areas of the city. Chief Clack’s commitment to life safety resulted in a decrease fire deaths to an all-time low in 2012.
  • Over the past several years of exponential growth for the city of Ankeny, Iowa, Chief Clack developed a strategic plan to manage population growth and the resulting increase in call volume. His vision, planning, and leadership allowed for the transition to a consistent, combination staffing model and the opening of a new fire station last year. This transition resulted in reduced response times citywide and decreased time to definitive care for patients experiencing STEMI, stroke, and other traumatic events.

A consummate professional with simple values that have proven to make a significant difference, Chief Clack embodies what it means to be a Fire Chief of the Year.

For more information about the IAFC Fire Chief of the Year awards, visit To learn more about the Ankeny Fire Department visit

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