OSFM History


    The Office of the State Fire Marshal was originally established in 1923 by Assembly Bill 409 introduced by Assemblyman Harry Morrison, 29th District, San Francisco. The bill was signed by the governor and became Chapter 188 of the Statutes of 1923. The act contained six sections. The sections were as follows:
    1. Section 1- The Governor is given 30 days to appoint a State Fire Marshal.
    2. Section 2- The State Fire Marshal (SFM) should safeguard life and property from fire and see that all laws and ordinances relating to fires are enforced.
    3. Section 3- Relates to the protection of property affected by fire.
    4. Section 4- Pertains to the crimes connected with a fire and the reports for the county district attorneys.
    5. Section 5-States that the SFM may appoint deputies who shall exercise the function of police officers.
    6. Section 6- A general statement that any state laws that conflict with the bill will be deleted.
  • These original six sections have grown to several hundred statutes plus Title 19 regulations. Following the enactment of the bill, Fire Chief Jay Stevens was appointed as the first State Fire Marshal by Governor Richardson.
  • In 1927 the dry cleaning industry was experiencing frequent fires and high insurance rates. The industry requested that the legislature enact the Clothes Cleaning Establishment Act which established standards for dry cleaning operations and empowered the SFM to prescribe rules and regulations and enforce them.
  • In 1929, the SFM became a part of the Department of Industrial Relations and was given a budget to operate. Offices were opened in San Francisco and Los Angeles.


  • Additional funding was provided to the SFM in 1931 by legislation which allowed the SFM to hire deputies and to inspect state institutions and any other place where a large number of people congregate. The 1931 legislation also authorized the SFM to develop the tools that were necessary to convert fire hose couplings and hydrant fittings to a national standard.
  • The Health and Safety Code was started in 1939 and all of the laws on the books were cataloged and given numbers.
  • The new Governor Frank Merriman appointed a new State Fire Marshal, Lydell Peck.


  • In 1942, Governor Earl Warren appointed a new SFM, Joe Yockers, who made significant changes to the Office. Now the SFM was required to have eight years of experience, a Fire Advisory Board was set up, and the SFM would be an independent state department.
  • In 1945 the SFM was responsible for flammable fabrics and in 1949, fireworks were added to the SFM responsibilities. In addition, the Education Code was changed in 1949 to require that schools with over fifty students in one classroom have a fire alarm system.


  • In 1951, the State Building Standards Commission was set up with the SFM as one of the ten members. The Commission was tasked to adopt, amend, and publish a single code of all administrative regulations in order to eliminate duplication. The Department of Corrections was required to inform the SFM fifteen days prior to the release of a person committed of arson. The SFM will then notify the local fire departments.
  • The Fireworks Law was revised in 1955 so that the SFM was now licensing wholesalers, importers, and exporters of fireworks. The SFM started approving safe and sane fireworks. Also in 1955, the SFM started approving heat-activated fire alarm and sprinkler systems in certain occupancies.
  • In 1957, the Explosive Law was enacted which required the SFM to write reasonable rules and regulations for the sale, storage, transportation, and use of certain defined explosives. The SFM was also mandated to standardize the 1½ fire hose within five years.
  • Governor Pat Brown appointed Ray Shukraft from the San Diego FD as the new SFM. When Mr. Shukraft resigned, he was replaced by Glenn Vance from the Sacramento SFM office.
  • In 1959, legislation was passed that required the SFM to publish lists of materials and equipment and methods of construction and installation of equipment which are in conformity with the fire and panic safety standards of Title 19. The SFM was directed to conduct a study of fire extinguisher sales and service businesses and to propose how the state can effectively control portable fire extinguisher activities.


  • The Cargo Tank program was mandated by the legislature in 1961 which required the SFM to inspect and issue Certificates of Conformance notices for all tanks in excess of 120 gallons which transport combustible liquids.
  • In 1965 new laws were enacted for sprinkler protection requirements established for certain nursing homes and welfare and mental care occupancies. In 1967, more welfare and mental occupancies; places of worship, drinking and dining; and nursing homes were added for sprinkler protection. The SFM could delegate the inspection responsibility to local jurisdictions.
  • Governor Ronald Reagan appointed Albert Hole from the Long Beach FD as the SFM.


  • In 1970, motion picture houses were added to the SFM inspection requirements. Halfway house were also added for sprinkler inspection.
  • In 1972 the SFM approving and listing of home fire alarm devices began. The SFM also started a new Arson Bureau in 1974 to investigate arson. However, the existing SFM dry cleaning program was discontinued.
  • The statutes over high-rise buildings were enacted that mandated the SFM to adopt regulations for these structures.
  • In 1975, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Phil Favro from San Francisco FD as the SFM.
  • The Fire Advisory Board was replaced by the State Board of Fire Services. The fifteen member board was mandated to make studies, recommendations and reports to the Governor and the legislature regarding fire protection, personnel appointments, fire apparatus and fire protection training.
  • The Fire Service Training program was transferred from the Department of Education to the SFM in 1978. Also in 1978, the SFM was given the responsibility to inspect every jail or place of detention annually for fire and life safety.
  • The arson laws were rewritten so that obsolete language was removed and appropriate sanctions and gross negligence provisions were added.
  • The SFM was requested by the legislature to develop voluntary standards for the design, installation, and maintenance of automatic fire sprinkler systems for one and two-family dwellings.


  • The SFM was required to adopt regulations for fire retardant roofs in wildland fire zones for residential occupancies including motels/hotels. The local fire agencies must submit a list of the hotels and motels that do not meet the minimum fire safety standards. Adoption authority of fire regulations for hotels, motels, apartments and residential occupancies was moved from the Department of Housing and Community Development to the SFM.
  • Interstate hazardous liquid pipeline safety provisions were established.
  • The responsibility for cargo tanks was transferred to the Highway Patrol.
  • The legislature requested studies on fire hazard of plastic pipe and combustion toxicity.
  • The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development became the sole enforcement agency for hospital construction but the SFM still reviews the plans for fire safety.
  • The SFM must administer a fee supported license program and develop maintenance standards for automatic fire extinguishing systems.
  • In 1983, Governor George Deukmejian appointed Ronald Bogardus from Oxnard FD as the SFM. When Mr. Bogardus resigned in 1985, the Governor appointed James McMullen from Campbell FD as the SFM.


  • Staff is working on updating this information, at this time...

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