San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White will be named Career Fire Chief of the Year by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Pierce Manufacturing Thursday in Dallas, fire officials said.
Chief Hayes-White has “shown how to lead with grace, professionalism and devotion that inspires others,” Jim Johnson, president of Pierce Manufacturing, a provider of custom fire apparatus, said in a statement.
Hayes-White began with the San Francisco Fire Department 28 years ago. She was sworn in as chief in 2004 after working her way up to assistant deputy chief from firefighter.
Officials with the association said Hayes-White knows most of the 1,800 firefighters in the department by name.
Association officials said Hayes-White has implemented many changes in the department such as random on-duty alcohol and drug testing, a reconfiguration of emergency medical services and restoration of promotional exams.
All of these changes have improved operations and increased accountability, according to the association.
Colleagues, city leaders and state leaders such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein nominated Hayes-White for the award.
Diversity in the department has increased under Hayes-White’s leadership. The number of uniformed women is up to 15 percent and minorities make up 50 percent of the department.
According to the association, San Francisco’s fire department is the largest urban fire department in the world with a female chief.
But association officials said that what truly makes her fire chief of the year is how her team describes her, which is decisive, energetic, collaborative, servant-leader, innovative, courageous and down to earth.
Hayes-White says, while she’s proud to be chief, her greatest accomplishment has been raising three sons: Riley, Logan and Sean.