Fire Chief, Baltimore City Fire Department
Mr. Niles R. Ford, PhD brings more than 26 years of experience in fire service to the Baltimore City Fire Department, having held numerous management and leadership roles across the country as Fire Chief and City Manager. He is recognized as an innovative change agent who brings to Baltimore a playbook on how to effectively facilitate internal change while building sustainable relationships with external partners.
As Chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department, he seeks to reduce barriers faced by residents with regard to career opportunities, to promote diversity, and to bridge the gap between the fire department and the community. Through his vision and forward thinking, Chief Ford redesigned BCFD’s recruitment process with a hiring process which now includes citizens from across the city serving as assessors on the interview panels. This process has proven to help shift the paradigm within the organization as the fire department increased the number of city residents in its last several academy classes. Additionally, beginning with two high schools and in partnership with the Baltimore City Public School system, he has successfully implemented an EMT program taught by fire department instructors. Upon completion of the program high school graduates may transition into full-time positions with the department.
During station visits Chief Ford often reminds members that the foundation of their existence in the fire service are the people in the communities they serve. The relationships and bonds they are able to form through the positive non-emergency interactions they have with the community are just as critical as their interactions in moments of crisis. They must never forget the “service” portion of being a part of the fire service, as the work that they do for others will ultimately be the legacy they will leave with this agency.