Episode 3

Published on:

18th Oct 2023

S4 Ep3 Leading When It's Hard - Chief Brian Fennessy

Chief Brian Fennessy of the Orange County Fire Authority joins us to talk about leading and innovating in the face of history, tradition and bureaucracy.

Brian began his career in 1978 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, working as a hotshot crewmember, hotshot/helishot/helitack captain and, ultimately, crew superintendent. In 1990, Fennessy joined the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) and, ultimately, became chief of the department in 2015. While he was with the SDFD, he developed and established a fire/rescue/EMS helicopter program. He became fire chief of the Orange County, CA, Fire Authority in 2018. Under his visionary guidance, OCFA’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) — a groundbreaking public-private partnership with Southern California Edison — has revolutionized wildfire response. The QRF fleet, including CH-47 helitankers and intelligence helicopters, made over 2,200 drops, preventing new wildfires from exceeding 10 acres, 95 percent of the time. As fire chief Fennessy oversees 78 stations serving nearly 2 million residents in 23 municipalities and unincorporated area. The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) awarded Chief Fennessy the 2023 IAFC Fire Chief of the Year, noting that “Chief Fennessy’s remarkable contributions to the fire service have earned him the IAFC Chief of the Year recognition, a testament to his enduring commitment and dedication to making a lasting impact on the fire service community.”
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About the Podcast

Mission Critical Team Institute Teamcast
Preston Cline, Coleman Ruiz, and the Mission Critical Team Institute share research and explore the questions vexing the most elite teams in the world, from Special Operations soldiers to Firefighters, from Trauma Medics to Professional Athletes, and from Astronauts to Tactical Law Enforcement.

About your hosts

Coleman Ruiz

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Co-Founder and Director of Performance, Mission Critical Team Institute

Preston Cline

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Co-founder and Director of Research and Education at the Mission Critical Team Institute
Senior Fellow, Center for Leadership and Change Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania