Interim Fire Chief David Brannigan is set to be appointed as the city’s fire chief during the Tuesday Berkeley City Council meeting.
Brannigan has served as interim fire chief since September 2017 after former fire chief Gil Dong announced his retirement. Brannigan’s appointment will become effective Jan. 28.
Brannigan started at the Berkeley Fire Department, or BFD, in 2002 as a firefighter paramedic, having previously done his paramedic internship and training with the department. Since then, he has served various positions within BFD, ranging from paramedic supervisor to fire captain.
“My experience overall has been very positive — we say ‘best job in the world,’ ” Brannigan said of his long background within the department.
After graduating from college in 1996, Brannigan worked in the software and finance industries before realizing he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to “give back to the community.”
The city manager chooses the fire chief through a series of assessment panels, one of which has a representative from the Berkeley Fire Fighters Association, according to BFFA President Jon Fischer. Fischer added that each panel is composed of different people and parties, one of which includes members of the community.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington said a consultant is often hired to conduct a national search for worthy candidates, but given that Brannigan is so “universally appreciated” within the city, the costs for such a process weren’t as expensive.
Fischer described his relationship with Brannigan as one of “open communication,” adding that they meet together once a month during labor management group sessions, as well as one-on-one to discuss opportunities to collaborate and better serve the community.
“The members (of BFFA) are very excited to have a chief like Brannigan,” Fischer said. “We look forward to new leadership.”
Brannigan identified one of his most notable accomplishments as having started community resilience centers to allocate more resources and training to vulnerable communities when he was serving as assistant chief.
As fire chief, Brannigan said he hopes to continue providing resources and support and to lead a transition in BFD to ensure that responses effectively address the needs of the community. He added that he would like to shape the department to be more modern, flexible and efficient over the next few years.
“The students are an important part of our community, and we want to ensure the service we provide for that population makes sense for their needs,” Brannigan said.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín expressed his enthusiasm for Brannigan’s appointment, citing his extensive experience and performance within the fire department.
Arreguín also described Brannigan’s critical involvement in disaster preparation and the emergency response of BFD.
“He has the trust and respect of not only the firefighters, but also everybody in city organization,” Arreguín said. “I think he really reflects the values of the community – I can’t think of a better choice.”