PITTSBURGH, PA (Jan. 20, 2020) -- It was with great sadness today that Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich and the entire City of Pittsburgh Public Safety family learned of the passing of former Director Glenn M. Cannon, Esq.
“Few people in the history of our city can match Mr. Cannon in terms of contributions to Pittsburgh and Public Safety,” Director Hissrich said. “He was an extraordinary man who lived an exemplary life. His legacy lives on today as the creator and first leader of the city’s EMS department, and in countless other ways. This is a great loss. Glenn Cannon was a great man and a great Pittsburgher.”
Mr. Cannon began his Pittsburgh public service career in 1975 when Mayor Pete Flaherty named him to oversee a citywide mobile intensive care/advanced life support ambulance system, which would become the Emergency Medical Services Department. He led the newly-created Pittsburgh EMS from 1975 to 1986. During that time, he established the city’s first River Rescue Unit, first Specialized Rescue Units and the City’s first Hazardous Materials Response Team.
“He was a visionary with a keen sense of detail,” said EMS Chief Ron Romano, who was hired by Cannon in 1978.
In 1986, Mayor Richard Caliguiri appointed Mr. Cannon to the position of Public Safety Director, a role in which he led nearly 2,700 employees in Police, Fire, EMS, Building Inspection and Administration and 911. He also served as the City’s Emergency Management Coordinator. He served as Public Safety Director until 1992.
“He was a great Public Safety Director, very hands on and very active,” Police Chief Scott Schubert said. “This is a loss for his family and friends, and my heart goes out to them. It’s also a loss for Public Safety and the city.”
Following his Pittsburgh career, Mr. Cannon worked extensively in emergency management at county, state and federal levels.
Director Hissrich, a former EMS medic, worked under Mr. Cannon when he was Public Safety Director.
“I personally witnessed his leadership at the Bloomfield Train Derailment in 1987 and the Ashland Oil Spill in 1988 while I was assigned to EMS's Rescue Division as a paramedic,” Hissrich said. “I saw firsthand how he was able to gain control of chaotic situations and ensure that First Responders were able to do their jobs effectively.”
Mr. Cannon held degrees from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University. He was a partner in the Pittsburgh law firm of Kennedy, Cannon & DeVinney, an adjunct faculty member and Visiting Senior Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, and the author of numerous published professional articles.
“Glenn was truly a very good friend, leader, and mentor,” said Assistant Fire Chief Norm Auvil, a longtime friend and colleague of Mr. Cannon. “His vision and inspiration led me to focus on family, education, training and public service. He truly has guided my personal and professional path in life.”
On behalf of all in Public Safety, Director Hissrich offers his deepest condolences to Mr. Cannon’s surviving family and friends.