Gregory Smith was selected by City Manager Jeff Pomeranz and approved by the City Council as Fire Chief effective April 10, 2019. Chief Smith is the 14th paid Fire Chief in the history of the department. Before his appointment as Fire Chief, Smith had been the Assistant Fire Chief, managing the Operations Division of the Cedar Rapids Fire Department since 2011. He has been a firefighter with the City of Cedar Rapids since July 1994, previously serving as a Battalion Chief (2009-2011), Fire Captain (1999-2009), and Firefighter (1994-1999).
City Manager Pomeranz said, “Chief Smith is a skilled executive with 26 years of progressive fire and emergency service experience, well versed in incident management, strategic planning, and agency accreditation. I look forward to his leadership of an excellent fire department, which is committed to providing emergency response and community risk reduction. He is well-respected in the department and the community, and will be valuable member of the City leadership team.”
Chief Smith said that he is “appreciative, excited, and humbled” to get the opportunity to serve as the Cedar Rapids Fire Chief. Chief Smith said, “The opportunity to lead the Fire Department in a City that values and supports growth and development of its personnel and departments, as well as the ability to work with City and Fire Department leadership to continue to improve the organization, will be personally and professionally rewarding. I wanted to become the Fire Chief in order to challenge my experience and education by leading the department through the improvement opportunities of the future.”
Chief Smith’s vision for the Fire Department is to embody the process of excellence through continuous improvement for the safety, welfare, and enjoyment for residents and visitors of Cedar Rapids through risk reduction, hazard prevention, and emergency preparation and response initiatives. According to Chief Smith, “It is my role to ensure that our fire department has the resources to provide great prevention, education, and response programs to the citizens and visitors of our community.”
Maintaining the Center for Public Safety Excellence Accreditation and continually improving related processes and programs for the department is one of the new Chief’s primary goals. Chief Smith wants to study the growth projections of the City to ensure that the department is organized to best respond to the needs of the community. Chief Smith also feels that it is essential to evaluate opportunities to improve partnerships in the community, especially those that increase community risk initiatives, fire and life safety education, and enhance response capabilities. A focus on improving diversity and inclusion of the fire department and its members is another important goal.
Chief Smith earned his Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Master of Public Administration from Iowa State University and achieved his Executive Fire Officer certification from the National Fire Academy. He also is a designated Chief Fire Officer through the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
During his career with the Cedar Rapids Fire Department, Chief Smith served as the on-scene Incident Commander for a significant portion of the Flood of 2008 and two Sinclair property fires. He was also a Co-Incident Commander for the 2016 Flood.
Chief Smith successfully led the Fire Department to achieving accredited agency status through the Center for Public Safety Excellence and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. Working towards, achieving, and maintaining accreditation raised the profile of the fire department in the community and emphasized the Fire Department’s dedication to excellence to our citizens and businesses. It furthered the City of Cedar Rapids department-wide culture of continuous improvement, as well as provided independent verification and validation of our city’s operations.
Under Chief Smith’s leadership, the City’s Insurance Service Office evaluation improved from a 3 to a 2, which can result in lower insurance premiums in the community because of the City’s fire response and equipment, water infrastructure, and Joint Communications Agency (dispatch center).
Chief Smith was also a member of the team that was responsible for relocating and designed the new Central Fire Station and Fire Station 3 after the Flood of 2008.
As a Battalion Chief, Chief Smith was the program manager for the Special Operations and Hazardous Materials teams.
Chief Smith is a member of the Iowa All-Hazards Incident Management Team and serves as an Incident Commander for the statewide incident command asset that may deploy in a large-scale event or disaster. He previously was a Planning Section Chief for the state team for the 2011 Missouri River Flood, RAGBRAI 2012 Cedar Rapids, and the 2016 National Governor’s Association Conference.
Gregory T. Smith
Cedar Rapids Fire Department
713 1st Avenue SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401