As the senior career federal fire official, Dr. Onieal is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the United States Fire Administration (USFA) — the annual training of over 100,000 first responders at and through the National Fire Academy; the National Fire Incident Reporting System, which documents and analyzes 27 million fire department emergency responses a year; the USFA’s fire prevention, public information and public education programs; and the 26 campus buildings and the grounds of the historic National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
An honorably discharged Army veteran, he joined the Jersey City Fire Department and rose through the ranks from firefighter to deputy chief, and then to acting chief, leading a uniformed force of 620 firefighters and officers. He spent his entire time "in the street" as a line fire officer.
He completed a Bachelor of Science from New Jersey City University, a Master of Public Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a doctorate in education from New York University (NYU). He taught in the master and doctorate programs in education at NYU for five years.
Beginning on Sept. 12, 2001, he led the USFA’s team at the World Trade Center, working behind the scenes to help the New York City Fire Department re-establish their systems of command, control and on-site communications. In 2005, he was sent to Atlanta, Georgia, to lead the in-processing, training and dispatch of 4,000 firefighters to assist in the response to Hurricane Katrina.
He is the recipient of the International Association of Fire Chiefs President’s Award for outstanding leadership, the James O. Page EMS Achievement Award for exemplary leadership, the Congressional Fire Services Institute Mason Lankford Leadership Award for improvement and advancement of the fire and emergency services, the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs President’s Award of Distinction, the Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Firehouse Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award.