Jim Smith

James P. Smith was appointed to the Philadelphia Fire Department on June 29, 1966. He was promoted to lieutenant on December 18, 1972; to captain on December 30, 1974; to battalion chief on August 3, 1981; and to deputy chief on June 27, 1987. Deputy chief is the highest fire department civil service position. Chief Smith reported to the deputy commissioner. He retired on July 7, 2007, and continues to lecture and write on firefighting.

Chief Smith has worked on both engine and ladder companies and in every section of the city. He has served as director of the Philadelphia Fire Academy. In this role, he was the departmental Safety Officer and responded on multiple alarm fires performing the Safety Officer’s function. Additional areas of responsibility included the research and planning unit. In his role as a field deputy chief, Chief Smith had responsibility for operations for one half of the city. Currently he is a member of the Atlantic County New Jersey All-Hazard Incident Management Team, serving as a Safety Officer.

Chief Smith has developed and taught many programs. He has been associated with the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, since 1982. As an adjunct instructor since 1984, he has taught numerous operational courses. He is a graduate of the prestigious Executive Fire Officer’s Program. He also teaches courses for the Emergency Management Institute.

Chief Smith has authored the Fire Studies column in Firehouse magazine since 1987. He has served as a technical consultant for numerous textbooks, and has lectured throughout the United States on incident management, officer development, safety, church fires, building construction, building collapse, strategy and tactics, incident command systems, tank farm fires, and high-rise firefighting.

Chief Smith has also served as a subject matter expert and testified as a technical expert on firefighting strategy and tactics, operations in vacant buildings, dangers of vacant buildings, and the training needs of fire departments.

Chief Smith has also been involved in independent fire investigations involving fire fatalities and firefighter injuries, to determine whether the strategy and tactics that were employed at those fires met national standards.

Chief Smith can be contacted at  JPSMITHPFD@aol.com.