ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 19, 2018) — Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman, who oversaw the city’s response to October’s Canyon Fire 2 and bolstered the department’s firefighting resources after 2008’s Freeway Complex Fire, is retiring later this year.
Bruegman, 62, has led Anaheim Fire & Rescue — the largest municipal fire agency in Orange County — for nearly eight years. His planned retirement caps 40 years in the fire service, including 27 of those as a fire chief.
He will continue to serve as chief through the rest of 2018 and will be available to assist the city as it seeks a new chief.
“Serving Anaheim has been the highlight of my more than 40 years in firefighting and emergency services,” Bruegman said. “During my time in service, I’ve worked with an amazing group of talented and heroic people who put themselves in harm’s way to protect others every day. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be part of that.”
Bruegman and wife Susan are set to relocate to Wisconsin to be closer to their grown children and grandchildren.
“On behalf of the city of Anaheim, I thank Chief Bruegman for leading us through Canyon Fire 2 and for his service and dedication to Anaheim’s residents, businesses and visitors for the past eight years,” Mayor Tom Tait said. “I wish him and Susan all the best in their new chapter.”
“We thank Chief Bruegman for his service to Anaheim and for his national leadership in his industry, which has benefited our city,” Interim City Manager Linda Andal said. “We celebrate his remarkable career and the advancements he has brought to Anaheim.”
Advancing Anaheim Fire & Rescue
Since coming to Anaheim in September 2010, Bruegman has built a department better equipped to fight wildfires, handle disasters and more efficiently serve residents, businesses and visitors.
Coming in after the devastating 2008 Freeway Complex Fire, Bruegman bolstered Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s ability to fight wildfires, one of the biggest threats facing our city.
He added five off-road engines capable of climbing hills and rough terrain to fight wildfires before they reach homes along with two smaller engines used for patrolling areas at high risk for fire.
Bruegman also initiated a Wildland Fire Protection Agreement with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, better known as Cal Fire, to jointly fight fires impacting Anaheim.
Anaheim saw the benefits during October’s Canyon Fire 2, which burned 9,200 acres of wildlands near east Anaheim. During the eight-day fire, no lives were lost and the number of homes destroyed was limited to 13.
Bruegman has also brought innovation that has benefited residents. In 2015, he introduced the Community Care Response Unit, an ambulance staffed by a nurse practitioner and fire paramedic with the ability to treat non-life-threatening calls on the spot.
The innovation, part of Bruegman’s 2011 strategic plan to boost the department’s effectiveness, has saved hundreds of residents the costly expense of unnecessary emergency transport and hospital care and freed firefighters to respond to other calls.
Bruegman, who oversees 210 sworn firefighters and 66 support staff, has raised Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s profile as a world-class emergency response agency.
In 2014, the department was accredited by the Chantilly, Va.-based Center of Public Safety Excellence, recognizing its adherence to best industry practices and its accountability to those it serves.
In 2016, Anaheim Fire & Rescue earned a Class 1 rating from the Jersey City, N.J.-based Insurance Services Office, a provider of risk data for insurers to help determine premiums.
The rating affirmed that Anaheim has the equipment, training, communications systems and water supply to handle emergencies within the city’s 50 square miles. For businesses and residents, a Class 1 rating helps keep insurance costs down.
Anaheim is one of only four California cities, and 66 nationally, to hold both distinctions.
Bruegman started his fire service career in the 1970s as a volunteer firefighter in his native Nebraska. He joined Fort Collins, Colo., as a firefighter in 1979, where he worked his way up to engineer, inspector, lieutenant, captain and then battalion chief.
From 1991 to 2003, Bruegman led fire agencies in Campbell in Northern California, Hoffman Estates, Ill., near Chicago and Clackamas County Fire Department, south of Portland.
Before being named Anaheim Fire & Rescue chief in August 2010, Bruegman served as chief of the Fresno Fire Department from 2003 to 2010.
Community, industry leadership
Bruegman has held numerous leadership roles throughout his career.
He sits on the boards of the Anaheim Family YMCA, KPC Anaheim Global Hospital and the International Association of Fire Chiefs Foundation.
Bruegman served as president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs from 2002 to 2003 and as board president of the Center for Public Safety Excellence from 2004 to 2017.
Wife Susan has long been active in the community, most recently serving as president for the Orange County Family Justice Center Foundation since 2016 and as board chair the two years prior. The nonprofit assists survivors in breaking the cycles of domestic violence, assault, child abuse and elder abuse.