Serving as Fire Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD), Derrick Sawyer is a 29 year veteran who heads the 5th largest fire and emergency services department in the country. Since entering the PFD in 1985, Fire Commissioner Sawyer has developed in-depth experience as a first-responder amidst an urban landscape that demands diversity in skill, critical training, and keen analytical decision making. Over 2100 members are under his command.
With a passion for educating the community on the merits of safety preparedness, he has become a sought after public speaker and revels in the challenge at hand. Over the past decade Fire Commissioner Sawyer has traveled the globe to educate diverse communities on the effectiveness of Community Risk Reduction, prevention and fire & life safety measures. Among his most impactful presentations were the 2011 International Safety Seminar in Seoul Korea and the National Fire Protection Association’s Annual Conference. He led the award winning Prevention division in both the Deputy and Battalion Chief capacity and as a result of his hands on leadership style, assisted the Department in reducing the number of fire fatalities in the City of Philadelphia to its lowest rate in recorded history. Fire Commissioner Sawyer was the 2011 recipient of the T. Seddon Duke Award for Fire Prevention.
In addition to serving in some of the busiest companies in the city, Fire Commissioner Sawyer has served in every rank of civil service as well as held the positions of Deputy Commissioner for both Technical Services and Operations. He’s served in staff positions in the Technical Support Unit, headed the Department’s Homeland Security Division and has presented at the 9th Annual Montgomery County Chief Officers Seminar on the importance of information sharing as it relates to preparing for and preventing terrorist attacks.
He also represents the Philadelphia Fire Department on the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Urban Fire Safety Taskforce and serves on the NFPA technical committee 1730, Deployment and Staffing for Fire Prevention Activities.
Fire Commissioner Sawyer has augmented his academic accomplishments by graduating from the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute and obtaining certifications as Fire Officer IV, Fire Instructor II, Fire Inspector, Hazardous Material Technician, Firefighter II and the University of Maryland’s Staff and Command School. He holds an Associate Degree in Fire Science from Community College of Philadelphia and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Safety Administration from Holy Family University. He is currently enrolled at Saint Joseph’s University where he is pursuing a Masters Degree in Homeland Security.