Assistant San Diego Fire Chief Brian Fennessy was selected to become the fire department’s 17th chief, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Thursday morning.
Fennessy, 56, who has 38 years of firefighting experience, is to take over for Chief Javier Mainar, who is set to retire in November.
During a news conference at Montgomery Field, Faulconer said Fennessy has “unmatched experience and operational knowledge,” two skills that will be especially important as the possibility of a strong El Niño looms amid a year-round regional fire season.
City Council members and leaders within firefighting circles applauded the announcement. Since he was hired as a San Diego firefighter in 1990, Fennessy has risen through the ranks of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Before that, he served 13 years as a firefighter and supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. It was no coincidence his appointment was announced at the airfield, where San Diego’s fire helicopters are based. Fennessy was instrumental in developing and implementing the city’s helicopter program.