Francis L. Brannigan, SFPE (Fellow), Passes

Fire Engineering is sad to announce that FRANCIS L. BRANNIGAN, SFPE (Fellow), passed away in his sleep at the age of 87.

Brannigan was the recipient of Fire Engineering‘s first Lifetime Achievement Award. He devoted more than half of his 63-year career to the safety of firefighters in building fires. He was well known as the author of Building Construction for the Fire Service, Third Edition (National Fire Protection Association, 1992), and for his lectures and videotapes. Brannigan was an editorial advisory board member of Fire Engineering.

He was the author of the popular Fire Engineering columns “Ol’ Professor” and “Preplanning Building Hazards,” which alternated monthly in the magazine. He was also a staple at the Fire Department Instructors Conference for many years, lecturing on the hazards of building construction, until his failing health prohibited him from traveling.

“It is with the deepest regret and sadness that we all mourn the passing of Frank Brannigan. Frank has left us, but he left us all a shining legacy of passion, integrity, enthusiasm, and character. He left us a model of what an American gentleman and an American firefighter should look and act like. Few have had as much impact on firefighter safety or focused as much importance on firefighter education. Those of us who knew him knew he loved his family, his country, and his friends. Few men have served their country, their profession, or their friends as well as Frank Brannigan. Frank Brannigan showed us that love when he spoke, when he wrote and when he taught. Frank gave to all of us with total abandon. He answered every email, he returned every call, he spoke to thousands and individuals with the same passion and intensity. Frank’s enthusiasm wasn’t generated by the size of his audience; it was genuine. Every American firefighter lost a friend and a mentor today, but we gained the smartest and most energetic guardian angel in heaven. Frank Brannigan will be long missed and long remembered. God bless and keep you, Brother,” said Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton.

Glenn P. Corbett, professor of fire science at John Jay College in New York City and technical editor of Fire Engineering, adds: “What can you say about Frank Brannigan? There are very, very few people in the fire service who will leave a legacy so lasting, so profound, and so vitally important as Frank Brannigan. Although he never met them, he touched the lives of most firefighters and literally saved the lives of countless others. Frank was truly a legend in his own time, working for firefighter safety to the very end. We will miss his humor, his wit, his friendliness, and most importantly his concern for the American firefighter. He was truly one of the pillars of the Greatest Generation.

“On a personal level, I don’t think I’ll ever meet someone again with as much dedication and ‘instantaneous’ knowledge as Frank. He was a walking fire service encyclopedia, with many a fire story or building construction concern at the ready. I am honored to have had the privilege to have many discussions with him, talking about the latest fire or construction technique. As a college professor, he always gave me pointers and topics for my own classroom. I was greatly humbled – beyond belief – when he asked me to help him with the fourth edition of his book.

“I’m proud to say I knew Frank Brannigan.

“Frank, your tireless efforts will live on. As long as firefighters fight fires, your dedication to safety will help keep them safe. You told it like it is, making the fire service the beneficiary of your labors.

“God Bless Maureen and the Brannigan family,” Corbett says.

Brannigan had decades of experience as a professional fire protection specialist. During World War II, he directed a naval fire fighting school, commanded a sea-going fire fighting unit, and was a chief in the Army-Navy-Pancanal fire protection organization.

He served for years as the public safety liaison officer of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He developed programs for fire officers as well as a fire loss management program.

At Montgomery College, Rockville, MD, he developed a model Fire Science Program. He was a member of the adjunct staff of the National Fire Academy, Emmitsburg, MD, and The Fire and Rescue Institute, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

He published many articles on building construction in the fire service press and was the author of Chapters 6-11 in the 17th Edition of the Fire Protection Handbook.

Brannigan had been honored by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers with full membership even though his degree was not taken in engineering. For many years he served on various technical committees of the National Fire Protection Association. In addition, the Chesapeake Chapter of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors founded the Francis L. Brannigan Instructor of the Year Award in his honor.

Funeral Arrangements

The family warmly welcomes e-mails from those of you who wish to share thoughts and memories of Frank. You can email them to

January 13, 2006
6-9 pm
St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church
Montrose and Tildenwood. This is one mile west of Rockville Pike, 1/2 mile east of I-270, in Montgomery County, Maryland. A fire department memorial service will be held at 8pm.

January 14, 2006. A Catholic Mass will be held at the above location at 1pm.

February 22, 2006. Full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery at 0900 hours.

No posts to display