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San Diego Gets A New Fire Chief

Photo credit: City of San Diego

Brian Fennessy is pictured in this undated photo.

The City Council Tuesday confirmed the appointment of Brian Fennessy as the 17th chief of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Fennessy, currently an assistant SDFRD chief, was selected by Mayor Kevin Faulconer nearly three weeks ago to replace Javier Mainar, who is retiring on Nov. 12. The mayor said it was important to set up "a smooth transition" sooner rather than later.

The 56-year-old Fennessy joined the department in 1990 after previously working for the U.S. Forest Service. He is in charge of emergency operations and is credited with strengthening the SDFRD's helicopter firefighting.

A 38-year veteran, the former hotshot member oversees all 48 fire stations and their personnel, emergency medical services, special operations and city lifeguards.

Faulconer called the appointment one of the easiest choices he's had to make as mayor.

"I am confident that Chief Fennessy will continue the important work that was begun under Chief Mainar to improve our emergency response times," Faulconer said.

He said he also looked forward to the incoming chief building new fire stations and increasing racial and gender diversity within the ranks.

Fennessy echoed those goals and said he hoped to improve fire safety in so-called "wildland interface areas," where neighborhoods back up against hillsides, canyons and other open space.

The appointment also received support from the firefighters' union, Supervisor Ron Roberts and Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, who flew in from Washington, D.C., to attend the meeting.

Mainar, who became chief six years ago and is stepping down after a 35- year career with the SDFRD, was given a long standing ovation by the crowd.

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