Alan Vincent Brunacini

April 18, 1937October 15, 2017

Chief (Ret.) Alan Vincent “Bruno” Brunacini, 80, passed away Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, in his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz.

He was born on April 18, 1937, in Jamestown, New York. When he was about 5 years old, Bruno’s family relocated to Albuquerque, N.M., where he graduated from Highland High School. He moved to Phoenix as a young man, and in 1958, he joined the Phoenix Fire Department (PFD). One year later, he married his best friend and sweetheart, Rita.

He moved up the fire-department ranks, holding every sworn position. Along the way, he took note of what worked and what needed fixing. When he promoted to Fire Chief in 1978, Bruno sparked a much-needed revolution. A gentle-hearted philosopher with a keen wit and kind disposition, his leadership creed was sincere, smart and simple: Prevent harm. Survive. Be nice. Bruno’s primary focus was firefighter safety. Second only to that, he told his charges, take gentle care of our citizens. He was a dedicated advocate for “Mrs. Smith”—that’s the name he chose to represent any fire-department customer. Treat Mrs. Smith with respect, he said. Be kind, show compassion. Chief Bruno was nothing if not genuine, and he showed those he worked with the same gracious consideration he expected for the citizens of Phoenix.

Bruno’s humor and candor made him a favorite at fire-service conferences and symposiums. His sweet brand of leadership proved infectious, and other departments across the nation began adopting his customer-service philosophy. When his 1996 book, “Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service,” was featured in The Wall Street Journal, leaders and bosses from all industries heeded his straightforward advice. Bruno’s other books include “Command Safety,” “Timeless Tactical Truths,” “Anatomy and Physiology of Leadership,” and the renowned “Fire Command,” which many credit for improving how firefighters operate on the scene of hazardous events. Chief Bruno and his sons eventually used the principles of “Fire Command” to develop Blue Card, an innovative training and certification program that has trained 35,000 firefighters to date for the challenges faced at structure fires.

Bruno retired from the PFD in 2006 after 48 years of passionate service. The quintessential object in motion, Bruno continued lecturing, writing and teaching. He was a graduate of Oklahoma State University’s Fire Protection Technology program, and he had a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University. Bruno was always learning. You would often see him scribbling notes on 3 x 5 cards he kept in his pocket. He had faith that anyone at anytime could have something clever to say, and he didn’t want to miss it.

Bruno is survived by his beautiful wife Rita; his sons Nick (wife Michele) and John (wife Holly); his daughter Candi (husband Ryan); his grandchildren Alex, Alana, Chelsea, Lauren, Olivia, Katie and Maria; and a loyal tribe of co-workers and friends. He lives on as the angel on our shoulders, reminding us to “Be Nice,” even when it’s difficult.

A celebration of Chief Bruno’s life and legacy will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, 1 p.m., at Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Ariz. Dress is casual. In honor of the chief’s signature style, Hawaiian shirts are welcome. Those attending the service who wish to bring fire apparatus should contact Aaron Ernsberger at 602.501.9977.

I lieu of flowers the family asks you to make a donation in Bruno's name to the following charities.

AZ Burn Center



  • Celebration of Life Saturday, November 4, 2017

Alan Vincent Brunacini

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November 28, 2017



Gene Preston, Ret. DC, Kodak FD

November 14, 2017

The fire service has lost a giant. "America's Fire Chief." I first met Chief Brunacini at the FDIC in Cincinnati decades ago. His awesome personality made me follow his teachings at seminars and conferences from then on. In 1995 at the FDIC in Indianapolis I got him to stand still a moment for a photo with Chief Sherman Manchester of Kodak FD in Rochester, NY and I. His Incident Command book with many of his drawing was signed by him blessed with one of his sketches. His nine books, recordings, videos and teachings will live on forever in classrooms, firehouses and firefighter's hearts. He taught us how to be nice to "Mrs. Smith" and make our FD's more successful. His saying that Incident Command "makes things go right" is something fire chiefs live by in FD's everywhere. I had some great teachers in college, but Chief Brunacini made them look only average. Thanks for the training chief. Rest easy "Bruno."

November 14, 2017

Alan Brunacini...the face of the American Fire Service! A man among men, the best of the best, brilliant and yet a mind for keeping it common sense and simple. He lead one of the finest fire departments in the nation for 28 years and everyone who worked with Bruno and has since followed should be thankful for the foundation he laid. As I told him at the Firehouse World in San Diego when I walked into his class a little early and he asked me, "what are you doing here?"....."YOU CAN ALWAYS LEARN FROM THE MASTER!"
With your loss the glass is half full. RIP, your work on earth is done. May God Bless Rita and the entire Family. John Price (LACOFD Ret)

Randy Rusk Jr

November 13, 2017

Today in the Fire Academy in Yuma, AZ, Chief Hank Green introduced us to a few videos of Mr. Brunacini. The lectures, speeches, conversations, guidance, inspiration, and sincere care that was illustrated in the short few videos we saw were simply amazing. I feel like we have missed a ton by joining the Fire Service so late and missing out on all the things he was a part of during his time here on earth. I say that with remorse, but very thankful for the deep impressions he left on everyone who knew him so they can pass this along to keep his name and wisdom alive and growing.
Whomever follows his footsteps will never be able to fill his shoes, but at least they have an amazing head start by having such an amazing person to set the path ahead of them.
Once Ive graduated Ill be sure to study all that Mr. Brunacini left behind.
Prayers are with him, his family and friends.

November 11, 2017

Rest in Peace Chief Brunacini, may your family be blessed and know this, he is working above for all of us. Thank you Chief for all of the extraordinary info and skills that you have provided to us in the fire service, especially skills I developed through your company officer training program. God speed Sir Bruno, you will be missed! - Dennis K. Schwander, Fire Captain - retired, Orange County Fire Authority, CA

Robert Searles

November 7, 2017

Our condolences to the Brunacini family and appreciation for the sharing of Chief Brunacini with our Fire Department and so many communities like ours'. Chief Brunacini not only improved fire fighter safety he taught us for many years to come the importance of our service and why we exist. There is no doubt that his influence and leadership changed our department forever...We are forever grateful for the sharing of his wisdom and remarkable insight (and humor). The "Mrs. Smiths" across the world continue to get much better service because of a very humble and great leader. Thank You Chief Bruno, and may you Rest in Peace

Dennis Compton

November 5, 2017

Rest in Peace Alan. We shared a lot of great years together in Phoenix Fire. I appreciate all you did for the PFD - the American Fire Service - and for me personally and professionally. Sher and I send our love to the entire Brunacini family at this most difficult time.

Dave Cowardin

November 5, 2017

One of the greats of our time, best wishes to the Bruno family Rest in peace old friend.

Luka Jazvic

November 5, 2017

Dear Chief Thank you Helping me Be a Better Me!! See you at The Big One Love ya !! Luka

sherry Bass

November 5, 2017

Reading the words written in this book and also recognizing a lot of the names from the past brought tears to my eyes. I started as a cadet while in High School in the early 80's . I guess you could say I grew up with all of these guys. I was one of the first female cadets. Although I took my career to the support services instead of in the field I was still "protected" by these amazing men who continued to mentor me and keep me in the family. In what has still been the most devastating loss of my life, I experienced what was known as to "always take care of family". Whether you were past or present "family members" you were never forgotten. I lost the first love of my life when Paramedic David Franks was killed in a traffic accident after leaving his shift as a C shifter at Station 27. I could not have made it without them and that included Bruno. Thanks for the memories and a chance to remember my past friends and family. It is something I have never forgotten. Love and prayers to you all - Sherry Bass..