Former long-serving deputy chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department and National Fire Academy (NFA) instructor, James P. Smith, has passed away.
“Chief Smith was a valued NFA contract instructor for more than 30 years and we are thankful for his service and appreciate that his family allowed him to spend his free time with us at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC),” said Eriks Gabliks on LinkedIn. “Through his articles in fire service trade journals, and his delivery of hundreds of training classes, he made an impact on career and volunteer fire and EMS leaders around the nation.”
James P. Smith was appointed to the Philadelphia Fire Department on June 29, 1966. He was promoted to lieutenant on December 18, 1972; to captain on December 30, 1974; to battalion chief on August 3,1981; and to deputy chief on June 27,1987. Deputy chief is the highest civil service position in Philadelphia. He worked on both engine and ladder companies and in every section of the city. He also served as director of the Philadelphia Fire Academy. In this role, he was the departmental safety officer and responded on multiple alarm fires performing the safety officer’s function.
Chief Smith has been associated with the NFA in Emmitsburg, Maryland, since 1982. He is a graduate of the prestigious Executive Fire Officer’s Program and also served as a contract instructor.
Chief Smith retired from the Philadelphia Fire Department as a Deputy Chief. While with Philadelphia Fire, and into retirement, the U.S. Fire Administration was fortunate to have him as an instructor with the NFA with a focus on incident management classes. His work with the NFA and his background in managing all-hazards all-risk incidents also enabled him to be an instructor with our colleagues at the Emergency Management Institute.
He lectured throughout the United States on incident management, safety, church fires, building construction, building collapse, strategy and tactics, tank farm fires, and high-rise firefighting.
Chief Smith will be laid to rest on March 11. He will be sorely missed.