SDFD Chief Brian Fennessy stepping down for new job in Orange County
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Mayor Kevin Faulconer Thursday announced San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Brian Fennessy is leaving the department, reportedly to become chief of the Orange County Fire Authority.
Fennessy will be replaced on an interim basis by Kevin Ester, assistant chief of business operation and 33-year department veteran, while a search for a permanent chief is conducted, Faulconer said.
Fennessy confirmed the northward move late Wednesday night. His last day as chief in San Diego is expected to be April 13.
“I am exceptionally proud of the men and women of SDFD and feel confident in the future direction of the department under Chief Ester’s leadership,” Fennessy said. “I am blessed to have raised three children while proudly serving the residents of San Diego. My family and I view this next chapter in our lives as an outstanding opportunity for personal and professional growth.”
The Orange County Fire Authority has been without a permanent chief since Jeff Bowman abruptly resigned Aug. 17 of last year, saying he was making the move with a “heavy heart” but giving no reasons. Authorities also gave no reason for Bowman’s sudden departure after he served roughly three years in the post.
Patrick McIntosh was appointed interim fire chief by the OCFA Board of Directors on Sept. 28 to serve until a new chief was hired.
Fennessy has been chief of the SDFD for less than three years. He was picked by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to replace the retiring Javier Mainar in early September 2015, who served six years as chief. He was then confirmed by the City Council later that month and sworn in on Nov. 12, 2015. Before taking over the top leadership job, Fennessy was an assistant chief with the department.
Fennessy has more than 40 years of firefighting experience and joined the SDFD in 1990 after previously working for the U.S. Forest Service, where he was a hotshot member. In his role as assistant chief before taking over the department, he was in charge of emergency operations at all city fire stations and was credited with strengthening the SDFD’s helicopter firefighting.
The Orange County Fire Authority that Fennessy will now lead covers all of Orange County’s unincorporated areas as well as several of its largest cities, including San Clemente, Irvine, Mission Viejo, Santa Ana, Yorba Linda and Buena Park.