On February 16, 2012, Mayor Emanuel appointed José A. Santiago as the Fire Commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department. As Fire Commissioner, Santiago manages nearly 5,000 sworn members and an annual budget of over 560 million dollars. He has made the Chicago Fire Department a leader in the fire service by implementing several best practices, including sweeping changes to the incident command policies with the use of innovative technology. These and other safety reforms established the Chicago Fire Department as an innovator in high-rise life safety.
Previous to his position of Fire Commissioner, Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Santiago as Executive Director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) on March 4, 2010. With an annual budget in excess of $91 million and approximately 1,400 City of Chicago and contract employees, Executive Director Santiago had the critical responsibility of overseeing the multiple disciplines that comprise the OEMC, which include the dispatch of all police, fire, EMS and the oversight, development, and execution of all City of Chicago disaster and homeland security planning and operations.
Santiago served in the United States Marine Corps for over 32 years, both in active duty and the reserves working his way through the ranks from Private to Commanding Officer. Deployments include Operations Frequent Wind (RVN), Desert Shield and Desert Storm (SWA).
Having joined the Chicago Fire Department in 1979, he holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Southern Illinois University.