Firehouse Interview: Gregory B. Cade: The New U.S. Fire Administrator

Firehouse Magazine Contributing Editor Charles Werner interviews Fire Chief Gregory B. Cade, incoming administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration, part of the Department of Homeland Security.


On May 25, 2007, the U.S. Senate confirmed Fire Chief Gregory B. Cade to be administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration, part of the Department of Homeland Security. He succeeds Fire Chief R. David Paulison, who is now the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Cade, a...


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FIREHOUSE: What are your hopes for the fire service?

CADE: My hope for the fire service is that it continues to bring the various voices into a central conversation that identifies and hones in on a few key areas that are going to make the most significant difference in health and safety for every firefighter. While the fire service is doing a much better job, there is so much more we can do together. We are still losing firefighters in 2007; that should NOT be occurring.

FIREHOUSE: If there is one message that you would like to share to your extended fire service family, what would that message convey?

CADE: The message that I would like to share is that looking out for each other is the most important thing that you can do. This can and must be done by creating a culture of safety an integral part of everyone's fire service life. It begins with the individual and that commitment to safety permeates the whole organization. I tell our firefighters every chance I get that my goal as fire chief is always to be there at 8 o'clock in the morning when the shift changes and that everybody who came to work the day before goes home.

FIREHOUSE: What are your thoughts about the National Fire Academy?

CADE: I think the National Fire Academy is an outstanding learning institution and the best fire service leadership training facility in the world. I have had the good fortune to be associated with the NFA as a student and as an instructor. I have observed the care and love that is extended to every student. The staff's dedication is repeatedly demonstrated as they develop programs that meet their true goal to produce a well-educated and well-prepared fire service.

There is no doubt that the full-time instructional staff, the contract instructional staff and the support personnel have a collective goal that is focused on that primary mission and they have been successful for a long time. They are all professional and knowledgeable, yet they never feel they've done enough and they always strive to do more. I am proud to be associated with every one of them and I look forward to the opportunity to work with and support them in the future.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the leadership of Dr. Denis Onieal, who has been the driving force that has inspired the continued evolution of this great fire service institution. I look forward to working with my good and long-time friend.

FIREHOUSE: What would you say about your fire department family that you leave behind in Virginia Beach?

CADE: The Virginia Beach Fire Department is full of so many talented and outstanding people that I have had the good fortune of being associated with. When I look at the number of people who come from literally across the world to be associated with us, either as a training venue, partnering with us on special programs, or just coming to visit and see how the Virginia Beach Fire Department operates, it is always a humbling experience. I am going to miss being associated with my extended Virginia Beach family. However, they are always a part of me and will always be in my thoughts. They are, day in and day out, a group of the most innovative and creative people that I have ever known

While I have tried to support their talents and creativity, I often learned that the most important thing that I could do was to open the door of opportunity and move out of their way. I am going to miss them, but luckily for me, I'll still have the opportunity to drop by the station and maybe have a cup of coffee every now and then.