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Chief Engineers - Chiefs of Department:

Keith P. Calden
Chief of Department
1972-1976

  • As Deputy Chief, organized the F.L.A.M.E. (Fire League of Athletic and Musical Events) program

Highlights of his tenure as Chief of Department:

  • Institution the concept of a "life safety system" for high rise buildings into the Building and Fire Codes
    • Gives the notification of fire
    • isolation of the area and the safety for occupants
    • ventilation control
    • full communications throughout the structure
    • elevator security and control
    • and immediate suppression steps through full sprinklerization of the building
    • This program pioneered a model now used throughout the nation
  • In 1971, instituted a physical fitness and weight control program for members of the Department
  • Began the change in the Command and Control System to a computerized system retiring the old bell notification arrangement. This project was completed in 1978
  • 1972, the Fire Safety Technician Program was completed under the sponsorship of the Federal Government. Twenty-one men were appointed to permanent positions in the Department
  • 1972, the Airport Fire Marshal position was upgraded from Captain to Assistant Chief, the Captain being placed in charge of Company Operations
  • 1973, instituted a program to renumber the Engine Company numbers. Where Engine and Truck Companies were quartered together the Engine number was changed to match the Truck number
  • Formed a committee to design a commemorative plaque to be installed in the foyer of Headquarters building. The Line of Duty Death plaque was dedicated on January 21, 1974 at ceremonies presided over by Mayor Alioto

In 1969 the Fire League of Athletic and Musical Events program popularly known as F.L.A.M.E. was organized by Deputy Chief Keith P. Calden in order to provide a common meeting ground for firefighters and the youth of San Francisco. The emphasis of the program is in the teaching and training of sports, supervised athletic competition and cultural development in order to develop the principles of sportsmanship, good will, and friendship.

Shortly after his appointment as Chief of Department, Chief Calden initiated numerous innovative programs in order to maintain the Departments' splendid fire record, and to increase the "professionalism" stature of the firefighter, which is an absolute necessity in today's large metropolitan fire departments. The present day trend to complex high-rise structures bring new problems to the fire service; in recognition of this, Chief Calden has pioneered a sweeping program that serves as a model for all communities. It began with the institution of a new concept of a "life safety system" which has been incorporated into the Building and Fire Codes which will, among others, give notification of fire, isolation of the area, safety for occupants, ventilation control, full communications throughout the structure, elevator security and control, and immediate suppression steps through full sprinklerization of the building. A pre-fire planning program incorporates inspection and plan development jointly between the District Chief, the Bureau of Fire Prevention Inspector, and building management. The occupants are then notified of this operations plan and their role in it.

In 1971, Chief Calden instituted a physical fitness and weight control program for members of the Department. Since fire fighting is the most hazardous civilian occupation in America, it remains that if the firefighter has not maintained his body in the same manner that he has maintained his equipment, he greatly increases his chances of Injury. It is the Chiefs' firm belief that by accepting the physical fitness recommendations, the firefighter will live a healthier and happier life.

A standard-setting computerized Command and Control System has been engineered and is being assembled and tested at the time of this report. This system will completely revamp and modernize the current alarm receipt and dispatch methods and alter the manner of unit control for all fire fighting units. This so-termed "Silent System” and electronic data processing equipment will give instantaneous information to Controllers at Central Fire Alarm Office for relay to fire fighters in the field. Modifications to Central Fire Alarm Office are being made to accommodate the new equipment; new wires to the various stations are also being installed. The prognosis for initial operation of the new system has been pointed to December, 1975.

In April, 1972, the Fire Safety Technician Program was completed under the sponsorship of the Federal Government and the twenty-one men successfully passing the required examinations were appointed to permanent positions in the Department.

A Charter change was approved by the voters in the June, 1972, election increasing the probationary period for new members to one year.

July 1, 1972 brought the re-introduction of the rank of Secretary to the Chief. Battalion Chief Andrew C. Casper was appointed to this re-classification. On this same date, the Airport Fire Marshal position was upgraded from Captain to Assistant Chief, the Captain being placed in charge of Company Operations. Robert E. Clancy became the first Assistant Chief to be placed in charge of the Division of Airports.

A program was instituted in 1973 and completed in 1974 to renumber the fire stations to an orderly pattern. Unused Engine numbers were assigned to those Engines numbered 45 and above. Where Engine and Truck Companies were quartered together the Engine number was changed to match the Truck number. We now have Engines One through Forty-four plus the Fireboat.

Continuing with his pattern of maintaining the traditions of the San Francisco Fire Department, and to specifically honor the memory of those fire fighters who laid down their lives in the service of the City, Chief Calden formed a committee to design a commemorative plaque to be installed in the foyer of Headquarters building. The noted architect, Mr. Ernest Born, assisted in the design preparation and supervised its fabrication by the Vermont Marble Company. The plaque was dedicated on January 21, 1974 at ceremonies presided over by Mayor Alioto; this plaque lists the names of every man of the Department who died in the line of duty.

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