Dr. Denis Onieal

Fire Service Affiliation

As the former senior career federal fire official, Dr. Denis Onieal was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the United States Fire Administration (USFA) — the annual training of over 140,000 first responders at and through the National Fire Academy; the National Fire Incident Reporting System, which documents and analyzes 28 million fire department emergency responses a year; the USFA’s fire prevention, public information and public education programs; and the 26 campus buildings and the grounds of the historic National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

An honorably discharged Army veteran, he joined the Jersey City Fire Department and rose through the ranks from firefighter to deputy chief, and then to acting chief, leading a uniformed force of 650 firefighters and officers. He spent his entire time "in the street" as a line fire officer.

He completed a Bachelor of Science from New Jersey City University, a Master of Public Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Doctorate in Education from New York University (NYU). He taught in the master and doctorate programs in education at NYU for five years.

Beginning on Sept. 12, 2001, he led the USFA’s team at the World Trade Center, working behind the scenes to help the New York City Fire Department re-establish their systems of command, control and on-site communications. In 2005, he was sent to Atlanta, Georgia, to lead the in-processing, training and dispatch of 4,000 firefighters to assist in the response to Hurricane Katrina. He served in leadership roles in almost every national disaster.

He is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the International Association of Fire Chiefs; and serves on the Board of Directors for the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Wellspan Health System.

He has served on the IFSTA Executive Board since 2020.

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