San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Brian Fennessy is leaving the department after two-and-a-half years to become chief of the Orange County Fire Authority.
The departure was first reported late Wednesday night, and confirmed Thursday by Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who announced the appointment of Kevin Ester, assistant chief for business operations, as interim head of the department.
“Chief Fennessy has been an outstanding leader of our Fire-Rescue Department and we wish him well as he takes on this great opportunity,” Faulconer said.
“One of the strengths of our department is its preparation of future leaders within the chain of command who can step up when needed,” the mayor added. “The department is in great hands with Assistant Chief Ester, who has decades of experience in all facets of San Diego Fire-Rescue.”
Fennessy was picked by Faulconer to replace the retiring Javier Mainar in early September 2015, 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.
His last day as chief in San Diego is expected to be April 13.
Fennessy has more than 40 years of firefighting experience and joined the department 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 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.
“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.”
— From Staff and Wire Reports
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