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Atlanta Fire Rescue Chief Joel Baker retires

After serving 30 years with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, Chief Joel Baker retired on Feb. 15. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently thanked him for his service to the city of Atlanta.

“I want to thank Chief Joel Baker for his commitment and tireless service to the City of Atlanta and the men and women of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department,” said Mayor Bottoms. “Chief Baker has served the department with honor and distinction, and I wish him the best in his retirement.”

As Fire Chief, Baker oversaw the state’s largest fire rescue department with 35 fire stations, more than 1,000 sworn and civilian employees, serving an area of 132 square miles within the city limits of Atlanta.

During his tenure, Baker led the effort to ensure that the AFRD maintained its ISO Class 1 rating and international accreditation by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. He also led the development and management of department initiatives including the Atlanta Emergency Preparedness Institute and Citizens Fire Academy.

“It has been an honor to serve as Fire Chief for the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department,” said Chief Baker. “As a child who was born in Grady Homes housing projects, raised in the Peoplestown community, and a proud graduate of the Atlanta Public School system, serving the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department for more than 30 years has been a privilege. I would like to thank former Mayor Kasim Reed and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for allowing me to serve the wonderful citizens of Atlanta and the brave women and men of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department.”

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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 served as a firefighter and paramedic, Fire Lieutenant in the Field Operations division and the Atlanta Fire Training Academy, Captain of the department’s Hazardous Material/Technical Rescue Unit, Section Chief in the Office of Professional Standards and Assistant Chief to the Office of Support Services.

A native of Atlanta, Baker earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Resources and Policy Studies from Georgia State University and a Master’s of Public Administration degree in Justice Administration from Columbus State University. He also completed Harvard University’s Senior Executive Education in State and Local Government program.

First Deputy Chief Randall Slaughter will serve as interim fire chief.

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