San Luis Obispo fire chief dies of a heart attack

August 18, 2010

John Callahan, a well-liked San Luis Obispo fire chief, died Wednesday night of a massive coronary.

He collapsed while playing softball at Santa Rosa Park in San Luis Obispo, sources said.

He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Callahan, 61, was appointed Fire Chief for the city of San Luis Obispo in November, 2005. Prior to that, he served the Los Angeles City Fire Department for over 32 years until he retired from that department in 2003.

As a deputy chief and commander of operations with Los Angeles City Fire, he held the second highest position in the department.  During his career in Los Angeles, he managed the implementation of a computer aided dispatch, acted as commander of the Fire Suppression and Rescue Bureau, and oversaw disaster preparedness, communications and dispatch, and in-service training.

Just last month, Callahan announced his planned to retire in November.

“As you know, I already put in over 32 years with the city of Los Angeles before I set foot in a San Luis Obispo city fire station,” Callahan said in an email to his friends and colleagues. “So I now am edging close to 38 years in the fire service (and 44 years total as a working man) and I think it is time to relax a little.

“I notified my people this morning what my plans are and I will be working with the city to conduct recruitment and test for a suitable replacement.”

Mayor Dave Romero hailed Callahan as “a terrific chief. One of the best I’ve worked with in my 50 plus years of service with the city.”

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Too sad, I was also thinking about how the paramedics must have felt and then they had to tell his family and loved ones. My sympathies to all who loved him.

Very sad. My condolences to the men who got the call. Taking care of one of your own is a hard thing in a brotherhood such as this. May his family find peace.