Important Updates

Executive Management

Fire Chief
Brian Fennessy
Brian Fennessy became Fire Chief of the Orange County Fire Authority on April 16, 2018.
Chief Fennessy began his career in 1978 with the US Department of Agriculture's United States Forest Service and the US 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. One of his many accomplishments while with the SDFD was developing & establishing a multi-mission Fire/Rescue/EMS helicopter program designed to serve the citizens of the City of San Diego and the region.
Chief Fennessy has enjoyed a diversity of executive leadership and management experiences in both the wildland fire and metropolitan fire service communities. He believes that Mission-Driven Culture (MDC) is the future of the fire service and has presented on this topic at a variety of local, state, and national venues.
Chief Fennessy has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and has participated in hundreds of Fire Service, NIMS, and Incident Command Systems courses throughout his career. Fennessy has also completed many specialized leadership-training courses, including the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Fire Service Executive Development Institute (FSEDI) program and for the last ten-years, represented the IAFC on the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee.
Chief Fennessy has held multiple Incident Command System (ICS) certifications and positions, has also served on National Incident Management Teams, and developed one of the first All-Hazard Incident Management Teams (AHIMT) in the US.
Deputy Chief, Administration and Support
Lori Zeller
Lori has been with the OCFA for 21 years. Prior to promoting to Deputy Chief in 2018, she worked through the financial ranks starting as OCFA’s Assistant Treasurer in 1997, then Treasurer from 2000 to 2004, followed by her service as Assistant Chief over Business Services from 2004-2018. Lori holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from California State University/Fullerton and she completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Lori has been married to her husband Jay for 26 years and has three sons (Jeff, Drew and Justin).
Assistant Chief, Business Services
Robert Cortez
Robert Cortez began his career with the Orange County Fire Authority in January 2019 and brings with him an impressive combination of education and diverse municipal government experience. Robert has held leadership roles in budget and finance, addressing homelessness, strategic planning, economic development, affordable housing and a variety of other disciplines. In his current capacity, he oversees the Business Services Department, which includes budget, finance, procurement, Clerk of the Authority and legislative affairs.
Prior to joining OCFA, Robert worked for the City of Santa Ana for over 19 years. During his tenure at Santa Ana, he held a variety of support positions, followed by progressions through the City’s Budget and Research Office, Interim Administrative Services Manager, Assistant Director of Finance, Special Assistant to the City Manager, and promoting to the Deputy City Manager. Robert was an active participant, working closely with the OCFA through the City’s transition of the Santa Ana Fire Department to OCFA in 2012.
Robert holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.
Assistant Chief & Fire Marshal
Lori Smith
Lori Smith serves as the Assistant Chief & Fire Marshal. She has over 30 years of experience in the fire service, having served 12 years in management and executive management positions. She is a Cal State Fullerton graduate in Political Science and also holds a degree in Computer Information Systems and Fire Administration. She is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officers program.
Assistant Chief - Logistics
Jim Ruane
Jim Ruane, CPA, has been with the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) since 1997. He joined OCFA just prior to formation of the Joint Powers Authority. Jim played a key role in OCFA’s financial transition from a County Department to an independent agency. He then progressed from OCFA’s Business Services Manager to Finance Manager, where he has guided OCFA’s Finance Division since 2002.
In 2018, Jim was promoted to Assistant Chief of Logistics which include executive level activities of planning, organizing, and directing the departments of Fleet Services, Information Technology, Property Management, and Service Center.
Jim also serves as the Chief Financial Officer of the OCFA Foundation and Type-3 Finance Section Chief for Incident Management Teams. He has a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management, a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Business Administration, and has completed the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.
Assistant Chief of Operations
Pokey Sanchez
Pokey Sanchez has been with the Orange County Fire Authority for over 30 years. Throughout those years, he has served the agency in a variety of positions, most recently for over 11 years as a Battalion Chief.
Chief Sanchez has extensive experience in administration and incident management. He worked his way through the ranks, starting as a Paid Call Firefighter before becoming a career Firefighter, Firefighter/Paramedic, Assistant Fire Training Officer, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief, and Training Chief.
Chief Sanchez has served on CA-TF5 Urban Search and Rescue, Firefighter Academy Coordinator/Instructor, Fire Captain Academy Coordinator/Instructor, Battalion Chief Academy Coordinator/Instructor. He is currently a FIRESCOPE representative, COA representative, CSFM SFT instructor, Incident Commander Type 3, Operations Section Chief Trainee, Division Group Supervisor, Strike Team Leader and is involved in numerous other committees and associations.
As a self-motivated chief officer with a record of success in leadership, he is able to develop effectiveness, efficiency, and maturity in subordinates through innovative leadership style. Chief Sanchez encourages free flow of ideas and cooperative resolutions to problems through strong teamwork. For this, he was named Orange County Fire Authority's Manager of the Year in 2012.
Assistant Chief of Emergency Medical Services
Randy Black
Randy Black became Assistant Chief of Emergency Medical Services in 2018. He has over 34 years in the fire service. He began his career as a Reserve Firefighter in Santa Ana in 1985 and became a full-time Firefighter a year later. He has risen through the ranks and became a Chief Officer in 2003. Prior to his promotion to Assistant Chief his most recent assignment was serving as Division Chief overseeing the city of Santa Ana. His assignments have included Emergency Planning and Coordination (EPAC), Emergency Communication Center Manager, Public Information Officer, and Emergency Management Coordinator. He is vice president of California Fire Chiefs Association EMS Southern Section and a FIRESCOPE representative. He has his bachelor’s degree in Public Fire Protection Administration.
Director of Communications
Colleen Windsor
Colleen Windsor joined Orange County Fire Authority in January 2019 with significant experience in the communications field. In this role, Colleen leads the communications team to create and execute strategic public relations programs for OCFA. In addition, Colleen provides counsel to the Fire Chief to effectively communicate with internal and external stakeholders.
Prior to joining OCFA, Colleen led award-winning communication professionals in the areas of media, public outreach, social media, marketing and creative services. She most recently worked for San Diego Gas & Electric, and she spent nearly a decade at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) developing and implementing strategic communication and marketing plans for a variety of projects and programs. Colleen previously was the press secretary and policy advisor to San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy, and had a career as a radio and television reporter/anchor for KFMB (CBS) in San Diego.
Director of Human Resources