In March 2004, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed Joseph F. Bruno commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM). In December 2013, Commissioner Bruno was asked by Mayor de Blasio to stay on with the administration and continue to coordinate the City’s response to emergencies to ensure continuity of operations.
Among his first major initiatives, Commissioner Bruno successfully oversaw New York City’s adoption and implementation of the Citywide Incident Management System (CIMS), the City's standard for responding to and managing emergencies and planned events. Commissioner Bruno also oversaw the comprehensive revision of the City's Coastal Storm Plan to ensure the City is prepared for a worst-case scenario hurricane and can shelter more than 600,000 residents. OEM also developed the "What if New York City…," a post-disaster housing competition that challenged teams of architects and planners to design temporary housing for dense, urban environments. This marked a critical step in New York City's effort to plan ahead for long-term housing after a catastrophic disaster.
During his tenure, Commissioner Bruno has successfully coordinated the City's responses to a variety of incidents, including the Queens blackout in 2006, the steam pipe explosion in midtown Manhattan and the tornado in 2007, two major crane collapses in 2008, the outbreak of the H1N1 virus in 2009, and two tornados and a microburst in 2010.
At the end of 2010 and into 2011, the commissioner coordinated responses to winter storms that led to a number of new winter storm initiatives, like the creation of a tow-truck task force and live video monitoring of road conditions.
In August 2011, Commissioner Bruno coordinated the City's response to Hurricane Irene, which included a mandatory evacuation of more than 370,000 residents in low-lying areas, a complete shutdown of public transportation, and opening more than 80 evacuation centers and emergency shelters.
In fall 2012, Commissioner Bruno coordinated the City's response to Hurricane Sandy, the most devastating coastal storm in New York City history. Key operations included life safety, dewatering, power restoration, debris removal, and support to residents. Under the direction of Commissioner Bruno, the City’s Hurricane Sandy Debris Removal Task Force received a prestigious 2013 Green Star award from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Green Cross International and the United Nations Environment Programme.
Commissioner Bruno also coordinated responses to the Metro North train derailment in December 2013, numerous winter storms in early 2014, and the East Harlem building collapse in March 2014.
Highlighting the importance of preparedness, more than 10 million emergency preparedness guides have been distributed through the Ready New York campaign under Commissioner Bruno's leadership. And with the commissioner’s support, NYC’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program has grown to over 54 teams and 1,800 volunteers trained in basic emergency response, preparedness, and first aid. Commissioner Bruno also added OEM’s technological expertise to the creation of Notify NYC, an emergency notification system for New York City residents that uses text messaging, email, Twitter, and phone to warn subscribers about emergencies.
Commissioner Bruno has a long and distinguished record of public service in New York City. In 1971, he joined the City Law Department as a trial attorney. In 1987, he became the City's Fire Commissioner. Subsequently, Commissioner Bruno was elected in 1991 and 2001 as a Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York and in 2002 as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. A lifelong New York City resident, Commissioner Bruno holds a B.S. in Economics from City College and a J.D. from St. John's University Law School.