Guardians of The City SFFD Home Page - San Francisco Fire Department Museum
Chief Engineers - Chiefs of Department:

Charles J. BrennanChief Engineer
1929 - 1943
May 28, 1943, bestowed the title of "Chief Emeritus, San Francisco Fire Department"

Charles J. Brennan
Charles J. Brennan Charles J. Brennan
  • Appointed off the Truckman's list, April 1, 1903
  • One of the first appointments off this first civil service list
    • Assignments as a fireman: Truck Co. No. 1, 1903, Engine Co. No. 2, 1903, Truck Co. No. 7, 1905
  • Appointed Lieutenant , September 21, 1906
    • Assignments as Lieutenant: Engine Co. No. 8, 1907, Truck Co. No. 4, 1908
  • Appointed Captain, September 22, 1913
    • Assigned to Engine Co. No. 1, 1914
  • Appointed Battalion Chief, October 11, 1917
  • Appointed Assistant Chief, November 1, 1926
  • Appointed Chief Engineer, November 9, 1929
  • Retired, March, 1943

Highlights of his tenure as Chief Engineer:

  • Stringent budget and financial appropriations are effect due to the economic depression that gripped the nation
  • Major Department plans for expansion are placed on hold
  • The orderly replacement of aging equipment is delayed
  • Changed the badges worn by members
  • Chief officers badge from the shield to the eagle-shield badge as worn today
  • Company officers and firemen from the shield design to the rosette design
  • 1937, created the office of Chief of the Division of Fire Prevention and Investigation
  • 1941, reorganized the Department from two to three divisions

Chief Brennan & Officers

On November 9, 1929, Charles J. Brennan was appointed Chief Engineer, having served as acting chief intermittently since October of 1928.

He directed his first energies toward developing the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety to a position of greater importance and responsibility. Through the combined efforts of the Chief and the Commission, an appropriation was obtained sufficient to give the Bureau seven permanent inspectors. An ordinance of June 1937 created the office of Chief of the Division of Fire Prevention and Investigation, combining the Bureau of Public Safety and the Fire Marshal's office under the direct supervision of this officer. This division, conceived by Chief Sullivan, given the necessary stimulus by Chief Brennan, and under the guidance of succeeding department heads has grown successfully to its present modern day efficiency.

The early years of Chief Brennan's term of office were paralleled by the economic depression that gripped the nation in the beginning of the thirties. This resulted naturally, in stringent budget and financial appropriations, which had the effect of curtailing any major Department plans for expansion, or even the orderly replacement of aging equipment.

Shortly after this, Chief Brennan submitted a report to the Fire Commission recommending reorganization of the Department from two to three divisions. On October 29, 1941, the recommendation was approved by a unanimous vote of the Commission. With the necessary realignment of boundaries completed, the new headquarters for Division Three was established at 1458 Valencia Street, where it was quartered with Engine Company Thirteen.

In March of the same year, Chief Brennan retired on disability pension after almost fifteen years of capable service as the Chief Executive Officer of the Department.

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