One-on-one with Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago | WBEZ
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Afternoon Shift

One-on-one with Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago

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(WBEZ/Eilee Heikenen-Weiss)
When Chicago Fire Department Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff resigned earlier this year, Mayor Emanuel chose another longtime Chicagoan to lead the department. Jose Santiago has some 33 years with the Chicago Fire Department, but that might not have been the case without some prodding from his “fire buff” friends decades ago.

“They loved the fire department, I had no clue what the fire department was,” Santiago told host Steve Edwards Friday on Afternoon Shift.

At that time, Santiago already had a job, and he wasn’t particularly interested in becoming a fire fighter. His friends—impressed by his physical physique from being a reserve Marine—persisted. They bought him a ticket to take the entrance exam, and he passed with flying colors.

Santiago takes over leadership of the department during a time when a lot is on the line. NATO comes to Chicago in just over two weeks, contract talks have started with the Chicago Firefighters Union, and diversity within the department continues to be an issue, all of which he addressed in his interview.

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