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L.A. fire chief was photographed on engine with bikini-clad woman

October 7, 2011 |  4:03 pm

Los Angeles Fire Chief Brian Cummings will perform 120 hours of community service as punishment for being photographed with a bikini-clad woman on a fire engine, he said Friday.

Cummings decided to serve the volunteer time after admitting that he was photographed with the woman in front of a firetruck 13 years ago, mayoral aides said.

Another photograph taken at the same time shows the woman standing in front of a fire rig alone, topless.

The pictures were taken on the Venice boardwalk. According to Cummings, a bikini-clad woman approached the firetruck he and a three-person crew were manning to look at the rig.

The firefighters asked to take a picture with her. A passerby took three or four photographs of the firefighters and the woman and then one of the firefighters took a picture of the woman standing alone.

Peter Sanders, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said the punishment was self-imposed and that Cummings is drafting a code of conduct for firefighters that he will present next month. “The chief realized later how irresponsible and inappropriate it was, and he is taking personal accountability for his actions,” Sanders added.

The community service will begin next weekend, the mayor's office said. Villaraigosa said in a statement that he had accepted Cummings’ apology.

“Despite his misstep some years ago, I strongly believe that Chief Cummings has the skills and expertise to be an innovative leader and implement meaningful change at the Los Angeles Fire Department,” he said. “While serious, this incident does not tarnish his entire career.”

Cummings, who was named chief last month, made his revelation public three days after city officials confirmed that firefighters who allegedly allowed fire engines to be used in two porn films won't face discipline because of a loophole in the City Charter.

The charter prevents the Fire Department from disciplining any employee for actions that are more than two years old, Cummings said in a letter to Councilman Dennis Zine. Both incidents occurred in or before 2008.

Engine 263, which is housed at Firehouse 63 in Venice, was used for a film starring adult actress Charley Chase at Venice Beach, where she was seen climbing on the vehicle and exposing herself. A second film involved Engine 41, which is quartered at Firehouse 41 in Hollywood.


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-- Kate Linthicum and David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall