Bresnan was the son of John Paul Bresnan Jr and Bobbie J. Bresnan and had one sister. He graduated from Erwin High School.
Bresnan earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also earned his Associate Degree in Fire Service Administration. He joined the Homewood Fire and Rescue service in 1987 and became chief in 1992.
Bresnan was found unresponsive in his office on January 10 and resuscitation was unsuccessful. He was taken to Brookwood Baptist Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Bresnan had been a member of the Central Alabama Fire Chief's Association, of which he had served as president for a time, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Bresnan's funeral was held at Homewood Church of Christ on January 15. A procession of fire trucks from across the state took place afterward to Jefferson Memorial Gardens in Trussville with his casket atop one of the fire engines. Bresnan was survived by his mother, Bobbie Bresnan; daughter, Lexi Bresnan; step-son, Kyle Raburn; sister, Charlotte Poe; a nephew; and his Siberian husky, Rosco.
- "Obituary for John Bresnan." (January 16, 2011). Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home and Gardens.
- "John Bresnan Obituary." (January 12, 2020). The Birmingham News.
- Robinson, Carol. (January 15, 2020). "Last Alarm: Funeral held for state’s longest-serving fire chief." AL.com.