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The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

Mayor London Breed Swears in Jeanine Nicholson as New San Francisco Fire Chief

Nicholson, a 25-year veteran of the Department, is the first LGBT Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department

San Francisco, CA — Today Mayor London N. Breed swore in Jeanine Nicholson as San Francisco’s new Fire Chief. Nicholson, who previously served as Deputy Fire Chief, is a 25-year veteran of the Fire Department and is the first LGBT Fire Chief in the San Francisco’s history. She is the second woman to run the Department, following Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

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

“Chief Nicholson is someone who needs no introduction for those in the Fire Department,” said Mayor Breed. “She is a dedicated public servant and a 25-year veteran of the Department who has worked her way up from being a Firefighter and a Paramedic to being a Battalion Chief and Deputy Chief. She has protected our city while fighting through adversity, and her experience and her resilience have prepared her to lead the men and women who are out there every day protecting our residents.”

“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen by Mayor Breed for this role and I am excited to serve the City in this new capacity,” said Chief Nicholson. “I look forward ensuring that our Department remains prepared to respond to any emergencies facing the City, and to working proactively with other City departments help our homeless population get the care they need.”

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. 

“The San Francisco Fire Department will be in very capable hands with Chief Nicholson leading the way,” said Chief Hayes-White. “Jeanine is hard working and well respected with tremendous knowledge of Fire Department Operations.”

"Chief Nicholson wasn’t appointed to serve as Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department because she is a woman or because she is part of the LGBT community. Chief Nicholson is here because she has proven to be an effective leader, because of her dedication and because of her impressive career,” said Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, who served as emcee of the swearing in ceremony. “Over the years, she’s worked hard as a Paramedic, a Firefighter and rose to the rank of Deputy Chief. She‘s selflessly put her life on the line to protect our City. The fact that she is a woman and the first LGBT Chief of San Francisco only makes me prouder of her accomplishments and the reflection of our City’s diversity and values. Chief Nicholson, you’ve made history today and I’m honored to stand by your side.”

“We are honored, and so proud, that Mayor Breed has selected Chief Nicholson as the next Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department,” said Fire Commission President Stephen Nakajo. “In following the rich tradition of rising through the ranks and serving in various capacities within our Department, it adds value to her qualifications as the next Fire Chief. Congratulations to Chief Jeanine Nicholson on this historic occasion!”

Chief Nicholson graduated from Colgate University in New York. 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.