James Schwartz

James Schwartz is a Deputy County Manager overseeing public safety and technology in Arlington, Virginia.  Until September, 2015 he was Chief of the Arlington County Fire Department.  Chief Schwartz joined Arlington Fire in February 1984 and was appointed Chief in June 2004.  Prior to his appointment as chief he served in a variety of fire department positions including Assistant Chief for Operations, responsible for all response-related activities, including fire, EMS, hazardous materials and technical rescue response, incident management and operational training.  In April 2003, he was assigned to the Office of the County Manager where he served as the Director of Emergency Management until his appointment to Chief.

The Arlington County Fire Department was the lead agency for the response to the September 11, 2001 attack at the Pentagon.  Chief Schwartz led the Unified Command effort for the Pentagon incident.


Schwartz serves on the Advisory Council for the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team at the National Counter Terrorism Center and is a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee.  He is a member of International Association of Fire Chiefs Committee on Terrorism and Homeland Security which he chaired from 2008 until August, 2014.  He is also a member of the Interagency Board on Equipment Standardization a national board that works to strengthen preparedness in the first responder community.



Schwartz has lectured worldwide on crisis response, leadership and preparedness.  He is a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where he lectures in the Leadership in Crises Program.


Chief Schwartz is a life-member of Leadership Arlington, an organization that develops and connects leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors of Arlington County. He received the organization’s Leadership Legacy Award for 2012.

Chief Schwartz graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Administration and is a graduate of the Executive Leaders Program at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School.