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The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

Mayor London Breed Announces Deputy Chief Jeanine Nicholson as Next San Francisco Fire Chief

Nicholson, a 25-year veteran of the Department who currently serves as Deputy Chief of Administration, will be the first LGBT Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department

San Francisco, CA — Today Mayor London N. Breed announced that Deputy Chief Jeanine Nicholson will serve as the next San Francisco Fire Chief. Deputy Chief Nicholson is a 25-year veteran of the Fire Department and will be the first LGBT Fire Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department, and the second woman to run the Department, following Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

In addition to her current position as Deputy Chief of Administration, Deputy Chief Nicholson has served the Department in various capacities on both the fire side and the EMS side. She has been a Firefighter, a Paramedic, a Lieutenant, a Captain and a Battalion Chief. In her current role as Deputy Chief of Administration, Deputy Chief Nicholson oversees a number of Divisions, including Support Services, Homeland Security, Human Resources, Investigative Services, and Assignment/Personnel Offices.

Deputy Chief Nicholson sustained second degree burns at an arson fire on Felton Street in 2009 where five other firefighters were also injured, one critically. She is also a breast cancer survivor. Due to these and other experiences, she not only understands all the risks that firefighters face but she has worked hard during her career to ensure that others do not have to endure what she went through. 

“Deputy Chief Nicholson is a dedicated public servant and a tremendous leader and I can think of no better person to serve as our next Fire Chief,” said Mayor Breed. “Her experience and her resiliency have prepared her to lead the men and women who are out there every day protecting our residents, and I am confident she will be ready to lead the Department on day one. I also want to thank Chief Joanne Hayes-White for her service and her support as we go through this transition process.”  

“I am honored and humbled to take on the position of Fire Chief for the San Francisco Fire Department,” said Deputy Chief Nicholson. “San Francisco is an incredible city with unique challenges resulting from our dense urban environment and our ever-present earthquake risk. I am committed to meeting these challenges and continuing the work to make our City safer for all residents. I want to thank Mayor Breed for entrusting me with this position, Chief Hayes-White for selecting me to be part of her command staff, and the men and women of the Fire Department for the work they do to keep our City and citizens safe.”

Chief Hayes-White announced in October that she would be retiring in 2019, and committed to staying on to run the Department while a successor was identified. Deputy Chief Nicholson will work with Chief Hayes-White on a transition plan in the coming weeks.

“My heartiest congratulations to Chief Nicholson,” said Fire Chief Hayes-White. “Jeanine has been a dedicated member of the San Francisco Fire Department for over 25 years. From early on I realized her potential and leadership qualities, so her appointment last year to Deputy Chief of Administration was an easy choice for me. The City will be in very capable hands with Chief Nicholson leading the San Francisco Fire Department and we’re both committed to a smooth transition.”

Deputy Chief Nicholson graduated from Colgate University in New York and she first joined the San Francisco Fire Department in 1994. She entered the San Francisco Fire Department in January 1994 and spent the first 24 years of her career in the field. Chief Nicholson has had an opportunity to work in every district of San Francisco. She was a firefighter in the South of Market and the Western Addition areas, a Firefighter Paramedic in the Ingleside and Richmond, a Lieutenant in Bernal Heights, a Captain in the Financial District, and a Battalion Chief in the Sunset and in Chinatown. She looks forward to her new role.