48-year-old Erik Newman served with the Richmond Fire Department in the Bay Area and in Clark County, Nevada.
He takes over a department that is about 20 firefighters short of fully staffed.
He is also the first African-American fire chief in Stockton.
"I look forward to serving the citizens of Stockton and looking forward to the next chapter not only in my life but also turning a page book on the Stockton Fire Department. Every organization I've been a part of I left it better than when I found it."
Stockton has emerged from bankruptcy and the fire department has started a training academy for the first time in eight years.
Newman will start on his new job December 16.