Fire Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia
In May 2016, Mayor James Kenney appointed Adam Thiel to serve as the 20th Fire Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia. Commissioner Thiel is responsible for leading the Philadelphia Fire Department’s almost 3,000 members in every facet of protecting our Nation’s 5th-largest city from fires and emergencies arising from all hazards. Adam also serves as Director of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
From 2014-2016, he was a Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In that role, he helped provide strategic direction, policy advice, management oversight, and operational coordination for eleven agencies with an overall budget of more than $3.1B and 30,000 employees. Deputy Secretary Thiel was directly responsible for the Departments of: Emergency Management, Fire Programs (including the State Fire Marshal’s Office), Military Affairs (Virginia Army/Air National Guard), and State Police, along with the state’s Homeland Security and Resilience portfolio.
Adam also served as the Governor’s deputy Homeland Security Advisor (dHSA), deputy Chief Resilience Officer (dCRO), Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), and FirstNet State Single Point of Contact (SPOC). He facilitated the Secure Commonwealth Panel and Rail Safety/Security Task Force, co-led the state’s National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) project team to a $121M Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant award, and collaborated with myriad local, state, federal, NGO, private-sector, and other partners across all aspects of Virginia’s homeland security enterprise.
Commissioner Thiel was the fire chief for the City of Alexandria, Virginia from 2007-2014 and chaired the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System (NVERS) Steering Committee. Adam’s 27 years’ experience spans five states (MD, NC, VA, AZ, and PA) as a chief fire officer, incident commander, company officer, fire and emergency services instructor, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter, swiftwater rescuer, and rescue SCUBA diver; he has directly participated in planning, response, and recovery efforts for multiple Presidentially-declared disasters and National Special Security Events (NSSEs), including the 9/11 tragedy, hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, an earthquake, major blizzards, international sporting competitions, and political events.
In addition to public service, he co-founded two successful consulting practices advising a wide range of clients on crisis management, leadership, organizational development, risk analysis, and strategy. Adam is a widely published author and has spoken at events around the globe; he has also developed and taught college courses at multiple universities.
Commissioner Thiel is currently enrolled in the Organizational Dynamics graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania; he completed doctoral coursework in Public Administration and Public Policy at Arizona State University (ABD) and George Mason University, respectively; earned his M.P.A. degree from George Mason University; received a B.S. in Fire Science from the University of Maryland University College; and earned his B.A. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Additionally, he has completed the Virginia Executive Institute, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, and the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security Executive Leaders Program.
Adam is a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers (FIFireE), a former Certified Emergency Manager® (CEM), and holds several National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-standard professional qualifications. He currently serves on multiple boards and committees, including: the NFPA Technical Committee on Emergency Service Organization Risk Management; Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Fire Council and Firefighter Safety Research Institute; Auburn University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security Board; the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region Board; and the Philadelphia Police Athletic League Board. Commissioner Thiel is a former chair of the National Fire Academy Board of Visitors and served on the NFPA Fire Service Section Board. Adam is a 2017 Leadership Philadelphia Fellow and a 2018 USA Eisenhower Fellow.