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James Whiteford joined the Edwardsville Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter in 1995 following three years with the Williamson County Volunteer Fire Protection District. He submitted to the State-mandated competitive testing process and was hired as a full-time firefighter/paramedic on September 23,1996. Over the next 23 years, Whiteford promoted through the ranks and was appointed Fire Chief on July 14, 2020, following the retirement of Chief Rick Welle. Whiteford now works to oversee one deputy fire chief, 30 full-time firefighters, and one administrative assistant. He also serves as the City's Emergency Management Agency Coordinator.
Chief Whiteford's fire service started as a volunteer firefighter in southern Illinois with the Williamson County Fire Protection District in 1992. In 1995 he moved to Edwardsville with his wife and young daughter and was soon hired by the Edwardsville Fire Department. Whiteford worked to advance his career and education in the fire service eventually obtaining a Fire Administration degree from Western Illinois University and the Executive Fire Officer certification from the National Fire Academy, along with numerous specialized certifications including the following:
Prior to his fire service career, Whiteford worked in construction designing and erecting prefabricated steel buildings.
Whiteford is a 1987 graduate of Port Charlotte High School in Florida where he met his future wife Wendy Kress. The two were married in 1991 and have three grown children (Ashley, Morgan, and Brooke)