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Villaraigosa names Brian Cummings interim fire chief

July 7, 2011 |  2:51 pm

Photo: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Credit: Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times A veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department and a vocal defender of its controversial redeployment plan has been named interim fire chief by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Brian Cummings will oversee the department until the mayor names a permanent replacement for outgoing Chief Millage Peaks. Villaraigosa said in a statement Thursday that Cummings, who served as assistant chief to Peaks, is well suited to carry on the changes implemented by his former boss.

"Cummings is intimately familiar with the details and inner workings of the organization, allowing him to pick up where Chief Peaks left off and ensuring the smoothest transition possible," Villaraigosa said.   

Peaks announced his retirement last month, after 22 months as chief. He oversaw the department during a period of steep budget cuts and staff reductions. After Villaraigosa ordered the department to trim $54 million from its 2011-12 budget, Peaks crafted a redeployment plan that called for fire trucks or ambulances at about one-fourth of the city's 106 fire stations to be put out of service.

The plan was opposed by the firefighters union, and it generated an outcry from some community members. When Peaks defended the plan at community meetings and newspaper editorial board meetings, Cummings was often by his side. After the plan was approved by the City Council in May, it was Cummings who initially spoke to reporters. 

On Thursday the head of the firefighters union said Cummings "worked so hard to sell the public and elected officials on the plan to close fire companies and ambulances."

Pat McOsker, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, said he hopes Cummings "will focus on safety and training."

"He probably will because, after all, he would tend to feel responsible for any delayed-response deaths that occur now," McOsker said. "We wish him well and we are here to work with him on the public safety goals that we share."

Cummings is a 31-year veteran of the department. He comes from a family of firefighters. His father was a firefighter with the LAFD, and his brother is a captain in the department.


Los Angeles Fire Chief Millage Peaks to retire

Los Angeles council approves budget cuts to police, fire and parks

Union, council members fear Fire Department cutbacks

-- Kate Linthicum at City Hall

Photo: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times