Oildale Leadership Alliance Breakfast Speakers

Disaster Preparedness with Dennis Thompson
Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Personal Testimony: 

I started attending Calvary Bible Church when I was ten years old, and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior when I was 13. My wife and I still attend Calvary Bible Church (in Oildale). We are also part of a small “Life Group” that meets twice a month, which has strengthened our walk with the Lord and has also blessed us with a number of true friends in the process.

I eventually learned to truly rely on the Lord in my work in the fire service, and in spite of several serious injuries was blessed to have been able to advance and eventually retire as the Fire Chief. In fact it was following one of these injuries that I felt the Lord leading me to return to college to get my degree and to pursue a management role in the Fire Department. I became a mid-level supervisor (Battalion Chief) in 1984 (3 years later), a member of management (Deputy Chief) in 1994, and was appointed Fire Chief by the Board of Supervisors in 2003. In spite of the responsibilities, and sometimes overwhelming workload, I often experienced his peace and assurance in making decisions, testifying in front of the Board of Supervisors, or in dealing with personnel matters. I believe this was because I really tried, and was often reminded by my wife, to work for the Lord’s benefit and not our own.

In retirement I have found another opportunity to serve for the benefit of his kingdom through Victim Relief Ministries as a “Crisis Responder”. This ministry was founded in Dallas, TX, primarily working with victims of crime, and is based on the Parable of “The Good Samaritan”. Demonstrating God’s love to those who have been impacted by crisis, trauma and grief has been of comfort to others, and a real blessing to me.

My favorite Bible verse, and personal goal, is where Paul states:  “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”  1 Corinthians 9:22b – 23 (NIV)

Professional Resume:

Dennis L. Thompson, MPA EFO

Kern County Fire Chief & Director of Emergency Services (Retired)

Current Volunteer Positions:

Victim Relief Ministries Crisis Responder (Non-Ordained Chaplain): Provide Crisis, Grief and Trauma Counseling Intervention to emergency/disaster victims and patients and their families in the Emergency Department at Kern Medical Center;

2011 Chairman – Kern Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (Kern VOAD): Coordinate Emergency and Disaster Preparedness of Volunteer Organizations withinKernCounty; and in the event of a disaster represent VOAD as a member of the Operations Section of the Kern County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in coordinating response of Volunteer Organizations;

Board Member, Disaster Assistance & Recovery Team (DART) for Kern Families: Newly formed non-profit organization (501-c-3 pending), intended to assist disaster survivors who have long-term recovery needs unmet by other resources; and

Kern Leadership Alliance (Founding Board Member) – Co-Chair of Disaster Emergency Response Committee:  DER compiled the “Disaster & Emergency Response” Church-based Facility Resource Plan, and other preparedness information and will be delivering additional training to churches throughout Kern County.

Previous Experience36-1/2 Years (1970 to 2009) with the Kern County Fire Department, retiring as the Fire Chief & Director of Emergency Services (Appointed December 27, 2003; Retired March 28, 2009)My fire service career included the following experiences and accomplishments:

  • Local Government Representative — California Interagency Incident Finance Advisors (CIIFA) 1994 – 2003 Developed and maintains the incident cost-sharing methodology of “Cost Apportionment” – used on large wildfire incidents in which more than a single agency has fire protection responsibility;
  • Safety Officer – CA Interagency Incident Management Team #2 1994 – 2000: One of 5 National IMTs inCalifornia and 17 nationally – Assigned to 19 major wildfire incidents and two hurricanes in seven states and the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico.  The fires accounted for over 330,000 Acres Burned, in excess of 20,000 personnel assigned, and over $100 million in suppression costs;
  • Southern California Counties’ Representative – FIRESCOPE Board of Directors (2004 to 2009): FIRESCOPE developed, and continues to maintain, the “Incident Command System” (ICS) that is now part of the “National Incident Management System” (NIMS);
  • Contract Counties’ Representative – California Wildfire Coordinating Group (CWCG – 2004 to 2009):  Coordination of Interagency (Federal, State and Local) wildfire agencies’ response to wildfires within the State of California (and to other States); served as Chairman in 2009;
  • Air Operations Strategic Plan – Included the refurbishment of a 2nd 12-person Helicopter (H-407) and a replacement fixed wing airplane (AA-490) used for aerial command and control of all aircraft (helicopters, air tankers, media, etc.) on wildfires.  Ultimately, the strategic plan addresses the long-term needs for a third helicopter and air operations facilities for housing and maintaining Fire Department Aircraft;
  • Kern County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – I initiated the concept and ultimate construction of this facility, which is utilized for training and preparedness exercises; and as the coordination point for all response and recovery efforts within Kern County (and its political subdivisions) in the event of a disaster;
  • First KCFD Paramedic Engine Company – placed in service at Station 58 – Pine Mountain Club, with the community paying the differential cost.

Linked In Profile


Executive Fire Officer (EFO) – National Fire Academy (USFA / FEMA) – Emmitsburg, MD, 3/93

Master of Public Administration (MPA) – CA State University Bakersfield (CSUB), 3/86;

Pi Alpha Alpha – National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration, 9/84;

Bachelor of Arts – Public Administration – CSUB, Honors Graduate (Cum Laude), 6/83;

Certified Chief Officer – California State Fire Marshal, 6/88;

Certified Fire Officer – California Fire Service Training & Education System, 2/94; and

Associate in Science – FIRE TECHNOLOGY – Bakersfield Community College, 7/80