A native of the city he serves, Joel Baker began his professional fire service career with the City of East Point Fire Department in 1986. In 1988, he joined the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department where he has held the following positions: Firefighter/Paramedic, Fire Lieutenant in Field Operations and the Atlanta Fire Training Academy, Captain to the department’s Hazardous Material/Technical Rescue Unit, Section Chief – Office of Professional Standards, and Assistant Chief to the Office of Support Services.
As Assistant Chief during FY2008, Chief Baker was instrumental in the management of the department’s $86 million budget in addition to the development and implementation of the department’s budget reduction strategies. In August 2009, he was appointed Interim Fire Chief, making critical decisions related to employment reduction, station de-commissioning consideration, and challenged morale.
Chief Baker was appointed Chief of Staff in June 2010. In this role, he directly managed critical sections such as Assessment and Planning, Capital Projects, Homeland Security, Office of Professional Standards, and the Public Information Office. This leadership role required coordination with City Council, the City of Atlanta Law Department, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, local business leaders, and Neighborhood Planning Units.
In July 2012, Chief Baker was reassigned as Deputy Fire Chief of Airport Administration at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA). At the “World’s Busiest Airport,” serving an average of 200,000 passengers daily, Chief Baker was responsible for providing unparalleled Fire Protection, EMS, and other emergency services to the HJAIA community. His division’s infrastructure included 244 fire personnel (227 sworn and 17 civilian), five fire stations, 49 front line response vehicles (aircraft and structural), and six auxiliary response vehicles. He was named Interim Fire Chief in January 2015. He was named Fire Chief in June 2015.
Chief Baker was responsible for achieving Operations Initiatives that are instrumental to the success of the department both internally and externally. Positioned under three of the six Organizational Priorities (Emergency Preparedness and Response, Customer Service, and PIER - Public Information, Education, and Relations) are the following internal measures: Insurance Service Office Class Rating, Target Hazard Identification/Preplanning, the Center for Public Safety Excellence Accreditation, and 2011-2012 Annual Report. External measures include the Atlanta Emergency Preparedness Institute, Citizens Fire Academy, website enhancements, and public service announcements.
He received an Associate’s Degree in in Fire Science Technology (1995), a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Resources & Policy Studies from Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (2006), a Master’s of Public Administration Degree (Justice Administration) from Columbus State University (2010), and is working towards his Doctorate of Education in Leadership at Creighton University (expected 2016). He also participated in the prestigious Harvard University Senior Executive Education in State and Local Government program in 2013. Recognized by the Commission on Professional Credentialing, Chief Baker was awarded his third Chief Fire Officer Designation (CFOD). This certification is received by demonstrating a high level of competence, as witnessed by his peers, documenting professional, educational, technical, and community service achievements and fulfilling prescribed standards of performance, ethics, and conduct. He also received the designation of Executive Fire Officer via the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. The Executive Fire Officer Program is an initiative of the United States Fire Administration/National Fire Academy designed to provide senior officers and others in key leadership roles with enhanced executive-level knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to lead, conduct research, and engage in lifelong learning.
Recognizing the importance of involvement, Chief Baker has served in many community organizations, including the Atlanta Citizens Fire Academy, the Atlanta Citizens Emergency Response Team, 100 Black Men of America (DeKalb County, Georgia, Chapter), the Board of Trustees at Kelly Chapel United Methodist Church, the Atlanta Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, the Harambee Culture Club at Atlanta International School, the Henry R. Butler Masonic Lodge #23 (PHA), the John L. Martin 367A Consistory, and Al-Karim Temple 242 (Oasis of Newnan, Georgia). He is a member of Board of Directors at the Andrew and Walter Young YMCA.