Grand Marshal 2013

Joanne Hayes-White


Joanne Hayes-White was sworn in 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 $300 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 system (CAD) 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 San Francisco Fire Department, where she has oversaw 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 or financial impact on the City.

Chief Hayes-White is very proud of the fact that she has, either as a Firefighter or Officer, worked at every one of San Francisco’s forty-two Fire Stations.

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, the reconfiguration of Emergency Medical Services and the restoration of promotional examinations 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. Chief Hayes-White is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and served on the Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee. In June 2007, she was selected to serve on the National Advisory Council to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In April 2010, Chief Hayes-White was selected as one of 6 Senior Fire Officials by the United States Fire Administration, Fire Protection Publications/International Fire Service Training Association, International Fire Chiefs Association, and the National Fire Protection Association for a fellowship to attend the Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.

Chief Hayes-White serves on the Boards of the American Red Cross – Bay Area Chapter and Mercy High School, San Francisco.

Chief Hayes-White has been recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the City’s Most Influential Women of the Year every year since 2004 and also by Irish America magazine as one of the Top 100 Irish Americans in 2005 and 2006.

Joanne Hayes-White leads an equally active family life, with three sons; Riley, age 19,Logan, age 16 and Sean, age 13, who are all very proud of their Mom.

“I’m humbled by being in this position. As a native of San Francisco, it’s a dream come true.But for a lot of reasons, I wouldn’t be here without such a supportive network of family and friends,” she said.

Honorary Grand Marshals

Margaret Keohane and Louis Roche