Chief of Department
Joanne Hayes-White was sworn in by Mayor Newsom as the 25th Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department on January 16, 2004. San Francisco is the largest urban fire department in the world with a female chief. Chief Hayes-White oversees a department of approximately 1,500 members and an operating budget of $350 Million.
Hayes-White, a San Francisco native, came to the Department after graduating from the University of Santa Clara with a degree in business. She was hired as a firefighter in April 1990, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1993 and to the rank of Captain in January 1996. In May 1996 she was made acting Battalion Chief with oversight of the Department's dispatch and communications systems. She oversaw the installation of the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and automated information systems and by doing so, streamlined and improved the Department's dispatch and records management capabilities.
Also accomplished during her tenure as the Battalion Chief for Dispatch and Communications, Hayes-White spearheaded the unification of City dispatch operations into the single Emergency Communications Department, a process that combined Fire, EMS, and Police dispatch communications under one roof, improving response times and service to the community, as well as strengthening interagency cooperation and collaboration.
Promoted to Assistant Deputy Chief in 1998, she was responsible for the Division of Support Services, the Bureau of Communications, the Bureau of Equipment, the Bureau of Engineering and Water Supply, Management Information Systems, and all facility repairs, maintenance and renovations.
Prior to her appointment as Chief, Hayes-White served as the Director of Training for the Fire Department, where she supervised recruit training, in-service training, continuing education, and firefighter-paramedic cross training. She developed the Battalion-Based In-Service Training Program, a process that virtually tripled the number of formal training hours for all members of the Department, with no fiscal impact on the City.
Chief Hayes-White is considered to be a hands-on, collaborative and team-oriented leader. She prides herself on knowing most of the Department members by name. During her tenure as Chief, the implementation of a Random On-Duty Alcohol and Drug Testing Policy and the reconfiguration of Emergency Medical Services have increased accountability and led to greater operational efficiency.
The Fire Department's community involvement has noticeably increased during her tenure through the expansion of the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) Program, creation of San Francisco Firefighters in Safety Education (SFFISE), and the Asthma Outreach Programs, as well as a partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and the American Heart Association (AHA) to incorporate Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) into 9th Grade curriculum.
In December 2012, she was appointed by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to the Presidential Public Safety Officers’ Medal of Valor Board.
Chief Hayes-White is a current board member of the St. Anne’s Little Sisters of the Poor and served on the Boards of the American Red Cross - Bay Area Chapter for nine years, and now serves as an Honorary Board Member.