Longtime AL Fire Chief Dies Unexpectedly at Work

Homewood Fire Chief John Bresnan, who joined the department in 1987 and had led it since 1992, was the longest standing professional fire chief in Alabama.

Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
Homewood, AL, Fire Chief John Bresnan.
Homewood, AL, Fire Chief John Bresnan.
Homewood, AL, Fire Department

Longtime Homewood Fire Chief John Bresnan died unexpectedly while at work on Friday.

The 59-year-old Bresnan, who has been the fire chief since 1992, was found unresponsive in his office. When he did not show up for an 11 a.m. meeting, those he was supposed to be meeting tried unsuccessfully to get him on the phone and then someone went into his office about 12:30 p.m. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful, and he was rushed to Brookwood Baptist Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Bresnan, a graduate of Center Point High School, joined the department in 1987. According to the Alabama Association of Fire Chiefs, Bresnan was the longest standing professional fire chief in the state.

His death was a hard-hit for those who worked with him, many of whom spent time together at the hospital following Bresnan’s death. Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer said Bresnan’s death was a shock.

“Chief Bresnan was a good man and a great leader in our fire department,'' McBrayer said. “He served our city of Homewood and her residents with humility and distinction and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they go through a very difficult time.”

Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice, the former executive director of the Alabama Fire College and Personnel Standards Commission and a former Hoover firefighter, said he and Bresnan have known each other since they were young paramedics.

“John’s always been just a good person, probably the smartest guy in the fire service in the state of Alabama,’’ Rice said. “And he was humble. You could meet him at a conference not realize he was a chief.”

Bresnan was a formerly a captain at the Center Point Fire District while also a firefighter in Homewood. Because he was a captain in Center Point, he was eligible to take the chief’s test and that’s when he landed the top job in Homewood. “He outscored everybody and went straight from a firefighter in Homewood to chief,’’ Rice said. “He was my mentor.”

Donnie West, the former Center Point fire chief, said he and Bresnan went to high school together and grew up side by side in the fire serve. Outside of work, they often went fishing together in the Gulf of Mexico. “He was laid back, but when he spoke, you listened,’’ West said. “He strived for excellence, and will be dearly missed.”

"John was a fellow firefighter and paramedic years ago and true friend throughout our careers,'' said retired Hoover Fire Capt. Rusty Lowe. “This is hard to believe and a terrible loss.”

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