Willie McDonald is a native of Fresno, California, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from California State University. He also graduated from the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officers’ Program, completed Harvard University’s fellowship for State and Local Government Officials, and earned Arizona State University’s Certified Public Manager Certificate.
In 1978, Chief McDonald started his fire career in Fresno as a Firefighter Trainee and then promoted through the ranks to Firefighter-Paramedic, Engineer-Paramedic, Captain-Paramedic and Deputy Fire Chief, serving until February 1993. As a Deputy Chief, McDonald oversaw In-service and Recruit Training, Emergency Medical Services, Fleet (including Maintenance, Repair, and Purchasing), Hazardous Materials Response, Disaster Management and Fire Communications.
Willie was appointed Fire Chief in Foster City, CA in 1993, Fire Chief in San Mateo, CA in 1996, Fremont, CA in 2002, and Scottsdale, AZ in 2004. In Scottsdale, he was provided the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of creating a new Fire Department to replace the private contractor, Rural Metro. Chief McDonald helped to hire approximately 275 employees, purchase necessary protective clothing, tools and equipment; and develop policies, practices, and procedures. The new Department was launched at midnight on July 1, 2005, and this event was the start of the City directly providing services without interruption. Six years later in August 2010, McDonald was appointed Fire Chief in San Jose, CA, where the Fire Department has 790 employees serving the nation’s 10th largest populated city.
Beginning August 2013, he joined Las Vegas Fire & Rescue as the Fire Chief. The Department is highly respected throughout the fire service, is accredited and maintains an ISO Class I designation.