Mayor Faulconer appoints new Fire-Rescue Chief

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer appointed Assistant Fire Chief Brian Fennessy Thursday to replace retiring Fire-Rescue Chief Javier Maina at Montgomery Field.

“At my direction, Chief Mainar has made great strides in bringing more equality to services by improving emergency response in neighborhoods that need it the most,” Mayor Faulconer said. “I am confident that Chief Fennessy will continue this important work.”

Chief Mainar, who spent his entire 35-year career with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, is retiring on Nov. 12. He began as a firefighter and steadily rose through the ranks to become Chief in 2009. His accomplishments include directing the firefighting operations during the 2007 wildfires as the City’s Incident Commander and guiding the department through a difficult period of rolling fire engine brownouts to achieve $11 million in budgetary savings during the height of the City’s budget crisis. 

“After 35 years of helping San Diegans in their time of need and keeping them out of harm’s way, Chief Mainar has earned the respect of everyone in his department, at City Hall, and in neighborhoods throughout the city,” Mayor Faulconer said.

According to the San Diego Fire Department, Chief Mainar has made significant progress toward Mayor Faulconer’s goal of providing more equitable service to neighborhoods. A Fast Response Squad has improved response times in Encanto and another squad is planned for University City. An additional ambulance at the border has reduced response times in San Ysidro. And a temporary fire station has helped the Skyline neighborhood while residents await construction of a new, permanent station.

“Chief Mainar has been an incredible asset to the City,” said City Council President Sherri Lightner. “I admire his steady leadership and I appreciate his years of service to the City.”

Fennessy, 56, who has 38 years of firefighting experience that began with the U.S. Forest Service, joined the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department in 1990 and rose through the ranks to his current position as Assistant Fire Chief of Emergency Operations.

“Passing the baton to Chief Fennessy is one of the easiest decisions I’ve had to make as mayor,” Mayor Faulconer said. “He has unmatched experience and operational knowledge of the Fire-Rescue Department and his leadership through the years proves he’s the best choice with a strong El Niño predicted and what is now a year-round fire season.”

One of Fennessy’s most notable accomplishments is being the driving force in developing and implementing the City’s helicopter program. The City now has two firefighting and rescue helicopters with night-flying capability that are available for water drops and rescues throughout the county. These helicopters are the only air resources in the region capable of providing night firefighting operations.

“I am truly humbled to have been named by Mayor Faulconer as the successor to Fire Chief Mainar upon his retirement,” Fennessy said. “The Mayor’s decision to stay within the department speaks volumes for the job Chief Mainar has done and the direction that has been set for the department. I appreciate the Mayor’s confidence in me and am prepared and eager to lead the men and women of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department successfully into the future. As Chief, I look forward to working in partnership with all of our communities to achieve safe and livable neighborhoods in support of the Mayor’s One San Diego vision.”

Chief Mainar said, “It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to have served our City for the past 35 years. I’d like to thank former Mayor Sanders for appointing me and Mayor Faulconer for his faith in allowing me to continue to serve in his administration. My tenure as Chief has been a challenging and rewarding experience. The success Fire-Rescue has enjoyed in protecting our community was made possible only by the support our department has received from our elected officials, the City leadership team and the many City departments that support our missions. I’m very pleased that the Mayor has chosen an exceptionally well-qualified internal candidate to succeed me as Chief. Assistant Chief Brian Fennessy has been a key member of our leadership team and responsible for many of the transformational initiatives in Fire-Rescue.”

Councilmember Todd Gloria today released the following comment about the retirement of San Diego Fire Department Chief Javier Mainar and the appointment of his successor Assistant Chief Brian Fennessy.
"Javier Mainar served the City of San Diego well over his six years as Fire Chief and 35 years with the department. While I am sad to bid farewell to such a talented and responsive member of the City’s executive team, I have every bit of faith that his appointed successor will provide a seamless transition for the department as our state continues to work through this record draught," said Councilmember Todd Gloria. "I applaud the selection of Assistant Chief Brian Fennessy to be San Diego’s 17th Fire Chief and look forward to hearing his appointment when the Mayor brings it forward to City Council for our consideration."

Mayor Faulconer’s appointment will go before the City Council for confirmation in the coming weeks. 

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