SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday that San Francisco Fire Deputy Chief Jeanine Nicholson would take over the duties as the new chief, the first member of the LGBT community to head the department.
Nicholson, a 25-year veteran of the department, replaces retiring Joanne Hayes-White and becomes the second woman to hold the top post.
“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,” Breed said. “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.”
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.
Currently, Nicholson serves as deputy chief of administration, overseeing a number of divisions, including support services, homeland security, human resources, investigative services and assignment/personnel offices.
She also has been injured battling fires during her career. She 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 mayor’s office said in a press release.
Nicholson called the honor humbling.
“I am honored and humbled to take on the position of fire chief,” she said. “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.”
Hayes-White — the first woman to be fire chief — announced in October that she would be retiring in 2019.