James Schwartz was appointed Chief of the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) in June 2004; he has been part of ACFD since he joined it 1984. Prior to his appointment, he served in a variety of Fire Department positions, including Assistant Chief for Operations, responsible for all response-related activities, including fire, EMS, hazardous materials and technical rescue response, incident management and operational training. In April 2003, he was assigned to the Office of the County Manager where he served as the Director of Emergency Management until his appointment to Fire Chief.
The Arlington County Fire Department consists of 320 personnel that provide fire, EMS, hazardous materials, and technical rescue response to an urban community of 210,000 residents in an area of 26 square miles. The department was the lead agency for the response to the September 11, 2001 attack at the Pentagon. Chief Schwartz led the Unified Command effort for the Pentagon incident.
Chief Schwartz is a member of the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System Steering Committee and the Sustainment Committee for Arlington County’s Metropolitan Medical Response System. He is a member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Fire Chiefs Committee.
Chief Schwartz chairs the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Committee on Terrorism and Homeland Security and is a member of the Interagency Board on Equipment Standardization, He has also served on the Advisory Council for the Interagency Threat Assessment Coordinating Group at the National Counter Terrorism Center from its inception in 2008 to its termination in 2013. In 2009, Chief Schwartz was appointed by the Secretary of Homeland Security to the Homeland Security Quadrennial Review Advisory Committee. He is also on the faculty at the Kennedy School at Harvard University, where he lectures in the Leadership in Crisis Program.
Chief Schwartz is a life-member of Leadership Arlington, an organization that develops and connects leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors of Arlington County. He received the organization’s Leadership Legacy Award for 2012.
Chief Schwartz graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Administration and is a graduate of the Executive Leaders Program at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School.