Biography of Charles J. Brennan
San Francisco, CA Biographies





Charles J. Brennan, who is the chief engineer of the San Francisco fire department, has, during a period exceeding a quarter century, made a record of unsurpassed efficiency and loyalty in the service of the city, and has been steadily promoted through the various ranks and positions by virtue of the outstanding ability which he has shown.

Chief Brennan was born in San Francisco, at 533½ Howard street. He laid aside his text books when he was thirteen years of age for the very laudable purpose of going to work, and his first employments were various and interesting. He drove a butcher cart, acted as a messenger boy, worked in a drug store, and punched cattle for his father in Tulare county. He was also in railroad work with the Santa Fe for a time. He enlisted in the United States Army when the Spanish-American war opened, and in foreign service he made a most creditable record. Among other things, he was aide to the first military governor of the island of Negros in the Philippines.

Chief Brennan entered the San Francisco fire department on October 1, 1902, as a substitute, and after serving less than one year in this capacity he was appointed, April 1, 1903, as a regular member of the force, having passed his civil service examination, the first held under the present city charter. Through the positions of hoseman, truckman, driver, tillerman, engineer and operator he progressed, until on September 21, 1906, he was appointed lieutenant. He became a captain September 22, 1913; a battalion chief October 10, 1917; and on November 1, 1926, he was promoted to assistant chief engineer. Chief Brennan was first appointed as acting chief engineer of the department for a three months' period, beginning October 16, 1928, and again on July 2, 1929, he was named for this post, which he now holds. Signal honor was accorded to him on July 26, 1930, when he was presented with the gold badge of an assistant state fire marshal. He was regularly appointed chief November 9, 1929. He has introduced modern methods in the conduct of his important duties, and has, among many other innovations, established a fire college for the instruction of men and officers in the best and most up to date methods of fighting fires.

Chief Brennan is a member of all the fire department organizations of the city, and also belongs to the Veterans of Foreign Wars; the Native Sons of the Golden West; the Rotary Club; the Spanish-American War Veterans; the Loyal Order of Moose; the Knights of Columbus; the South of Market Boys; the McKinley Fleet; the Public Spirit Club; and the 12-10 Club. In the program of the nineteenth annual ball of the San Francisco fire department, held November 2, 1929, there is one sentence in a resume of Chief Brennan's career which epitomizes his success, as follows: "Sincerity of purpose, consistency of achievement, and absolute loyalty are attributes which characterize Chief Charles J. Brennan to everyone who knows him." To this may be added the democratic attitude he has maintained toward his fellow citizens, and which has won him numerous friends wherever he has made contact.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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