James Whiteford

Administrative Office
Title: Fire Chief
Phone: 618-692-7540
Fire Department Chief James Whiteford


September 23, 1996


Start & Positions

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 oversees one deputy fire chief, 30 full-time firefighters, and one administrative assistant. He also serves as the City's Emergency Management Agency Coordinator.

Career History

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:

  • Nationally Registered Paramedic
  • Illinois Advanced Firefighter
  • Fire Apparatus Engineer
  • Hazardous Materials Technician
  • Vehicle & Machinery Extraction
  • High Angle Rope Rescue
  • Trench Collapse Rescue
  • Fire Service Instructor II

Prior to his fire service career, Whiteford worked in construction designing and erecting prefabricated steel buildings.

Personal Life

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)


  • 1987 Graduate Port Charlotte High School
  • 1991 Graduate ITT Technical Institute Tampa (Computer Aided Drafting & Design)
  • 2008 Graduate Western Illinois University (Bachelor of Arts - Fire Department Administration)
  • 2015 Graduate Executive Fire Officer Program (National Fire Academy)


Return to Staff Directory