On May 16, 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 3000-plus uniformed and civilian members in every facet of protecting our Nation’s 5th-largest city from fires and emergencies arising from all hazards.
In February 2014, Adam was appointed to serve as 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 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 local, state, federal, military, and other stakeholders in managing all aspects of Virginia’s homeland security enterprise, including cybersecurity consequence management, unmanned systems deployment, and critical infrastructure protection. Deputy Secretary Thiel was senior advisor to the Virginia 9-1-1 Services Board, executive sponsor of the Virginia Cyber Response Working Group, principal investigator for a Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-funded Regional Resilience Dashboard project, and a member of the: National Capital Region (NCR) Homeland Security Executive Committee, DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) Executive Steering Committee, Virginia Aviation Security Committee, Virginia Area Maritime Security Executive Committee, Virginia IT Infrastructure Sourcing Program Steering Committee, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) Executive Committee, and DHS Non-Traditional Aviation Technology (NTAT) Threat Task Force.
As fire chief for the City of Alexandria, Virginia—a diverse and densely populated urban community in the National Capital Region—from 2007-2014, Chief Thiel managed the city’s building/fire code administration, all- hazards emergency response, fire communications, emergency medical services, fire/arson investigation, and emergency management functions. He chaired the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System (NVERS) Steering Committee and served on several other regional preparedness and homeland security groups.
Commissioner Thiel’s 28 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 2002, after almost seven years with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department where he also served on the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2068 Executive Board and Human Relations Committee, Adam was appointed to lead the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) through a critical post-9/11 transition and state fiscal crisis. Executive Director Thiel helped Virginia’s state fire agency modernize systems, add capacity, enhance diversity, and improve efficiency by engaging employees and stakeholders in strategic planning, implementation, and program evaluation. He was a member of the Commonwealth Preparedness Working Group, Virginia Emergency Response Council, State Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Advisory Committee, and Child Day-Care Council.
In addition to public service, Adam has co-founded two successful consulting practices advising clients including federal, state, and local agencies; institutions of higher education; non-profit organizations; law firms; and Fortune 500 companies in crisis management, leadership, training development, risk analysis, and business strategy. He was a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute (HSSAI), is widely published, has presented at more than 50 conferences in multiple states/countries, taught graduate-level courses at several colleges and universities, and co-edited the International City/County Management Association’s iconic “green book” Managing Fire and Emergency Services, 4th Edition.
Commissioner Thiel completed doctoral coursework in Public Administration (ABD) and Public Policy at Arizona State University and George Mason University, respectively; earned his M.P.A. degree from George Mason University; received his 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. He is currently a student in the University of Pennsylvania’s Organizational Dynamics graduate program and 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 Certified Emergency Manager® (CEM), Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers (FIFireE), 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; George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security Board; the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region Board; and the Philadelphia Police Athletic League Board. He is a former chair of the National Fire Academy Board of Visitors and also served on the NFPA Fire Service Section Board. Adam is a 2017 Leadership Philadelphia Fellow and a 2018 USA Eisenhower Fellow.
Fire Commissioner Thiel is an Ironman® triathlon finisher, Crossfit® athlete, bicyclist (road and mountain), SCUBA diver, kayaker, martial arts practitioner, and aspiring gardener. Most importantly, Adam is the father of two energetic and accomplished teenagers.
Sessions I’m Presenting
|Affiliation||Fire Commissioner for City of Philadelphia|