San Francisco mayor picks new fire chief, first LGBTQ chief in city history

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According to the mayor's office, 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. 

“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 said she was "honored and humbled to take on the position," saying “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 eity safer for all residents.”

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.  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. 

Hayes-White was sworn in by Mayor Newsom as the 25th Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department on January 16, 2004.

San Francisco is the largest urban fire department in the world with a female chief. And now it has had two.

The deppartment has approximately 1,500 members and an operating budget of $350 Million.