City of Firsts: San Francisco swears in first LGBT Fire Chief

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is the city of firsts and on Monday the first LGBT Fire Chief in San Francisco's history was sworn in.

Jeanine Nicholson is someone from inside the department who has served for 25 years. She's known as an insider who has gained the respect of the rank and file.

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"She's been a paramedic, she's been a firefighter, she's been a lieutenant, a captain, a battalion chief and now deputy chief," San Francisco Mayor London Breed told a crowd of people at City Hall who came to see the new chief being sworn in.

As chief, Nicholson vows to address the homeless crisis which has overburden the fire department because of the high number of emergency responses on city streets.

"Have more access, more outreach to the homeless and opioid addicted people on our streets. It's really important that we work with the mayor's office on that," revealed Chief Nicholson.

A cancer survivor herself, Nicholson has already helped to create awareness about cancer rates among firefighters being higher than the rest of the population.

"We are facing this challenge head on with awareness and with change to policies and equipment," said Nicholson.

Aside from that, people we spoke to were also wondering what's being done to keep fire fighters from leaving the city.
"They can't afford it, they just can't, nobody can," said one man who lives in San Francisco.

There are no plans to build affordable housing exclusively for firefighters, instead the new chief said the department is now focusing on recruiting young people who already live and will stay in the city.

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"Start with kids in under represented neighborhoods, EMT classes, life skill classes, fire science classes in the schools," Nicholson explained.

As for those red emergency call boxes that are in need of repair, Chief Nicholson said they're working on them.

"They're very expensive to repair and we're looking at more wireless type of technology for that, that is in the works," she added.

Nicholson acknowledged that those red call boxes are a part of the city's emergency response network.
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