Doyle Sewell Named Visalia’s Interim Fire Chief

A press release from the City of Visalia

Former Visalia Fire Battalion Chief Comes Out of Retirement To Serve One More Shift

VISALIA, CA – Doyle Sewell, a retired 26-year veteran of the Visalia Fire Department, will serve the City of Visalia as Fire Chief on an interim basis as Visalia Fire Chief Doug McBee retires and officially ends his tenure with the City of Visalia next week.

Sewell is a former Visalia Fire Department Battalion Chief who joined the city in 1989 as a Firefighter Trainee. Over subsequent years he rose through the ranks of Firefighter, Fire Engineer, Fire Captain, and in 1999 began his service as Battalion Chief, a position he held with the Visalia Fire Department for 16 years. During his years with Visalia Fire, Sewell served as shift supervisor, Fire Marshal, and Interim Fire Chief. He retired in 2015 after 26 years with the City of Visalia. Doyle is a product of Visalia, having attended Redwood High School and College of the Sequoias. He resides in Visalia with his wife of thirty years, Elaine, and together they have two adult children.

“It’s a pleasure to be coming back to the fire service, particularly in the 150th anniversary year of the Visalia Fire Department,” shared Sewell. “I look forward to once again joining the ranks of the Department and serving the community and the organization that I love.”

Sewell’s appointment will begin next week as retiring Chief Doug McBee ends his 42-year career in the fire service, six years with the City of Visalia, on Friday, May 10th.

City Manager Randy Groom noted, “We are all genuinely sad to see Chief McBee leaving, but he has served this community well, and with great integrity.  We wish Doug only the best as he enters the well-deserved retirement chapter of his life.”

As for the appointment of Sewell, Groom stated, “Doyle is well known and respected in the local fire service and has a long history with the Visalia Fire Department and the Visalia community. I suspect that his transition into the interim role will be quick and smooth, as he already has well-established working relationships within the Department, the City organization, and the community. Doyle is well suited to provide a seamless transition as Chief McBee retires and we work to find a permanent replacement.”

The City Manager, City Council, and staff are working to craft and launch a recruitment process to seek a permanent chief.

In the meantime, Sewell will take charge of the department’s six fire stations, staffed by 76 uniformed personnel, and eight non-uniformed personnel, that responded to over 15,000 calls for service in 2018. The Department is an “All Hazard” department, equipped and trained not only for fire suppression and prevention but emergency medical services, investigations, regional hazardous materials response, rescue operations, and disaster response and coordination. The Department provides emergency services throughout the 38 square miles within the city limits and supports neighboring communities through mutual aid response on a regular basis.

For more information on the City of Visalia Fire Department, visit them online at or follow them on Twitter @VisaliaFire.

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