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Chuck MacfarlandChief of Air OperationsCity of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department

Chuck Macfarland started his career in the fire service as a firefighter at Warner Bros Studios Fire Department in 1977.  After learning to fly helicopters, Macfarland worked as a contractor to the US Forest Service, US Department of Interior and various other state and local governmental agencies piloting helicopters for aerial firefighting, search & rescue, and land management administrative flight support.   

Chief Macfarland was instrumental in the pilot program to create the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Air Operations program. Macfarland has served as a Fire Helicopter Pilot, Chief Pilot and was promoted to the Chief of Air Operations in May 2016.  

Chief Macfarland holds a FAA Commercial Pilot Certificate and has over 11,000 hours as pilot in command. 

Chief Macfarland attended University of Southern California, Aviation Safety Certificate program in 1985 and University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Executive Education, Mission Critical Teams Certificate program in 2016.  

Chief Macfarland serves on several international, national, and local committees and boards. 


  • Helicopter Association International (HAI) Government Service Committee – Past Chairman 
  • Helicopter Association International (HAI) UAS Working Group 


  • Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission (PSAAC) – Fire Commissioner  


  • FIRESCOPE Aviation Operations Specialist Group – Chair 

Regional – Local 

  • San Diego Urban Area All Hazard Incident Management Team  
  • San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Emerging Technologies Working Group