Fire Chief Ronald W. Lathrope retired this week after 27 years on the Lynwood Fire Department. Lathrope, 55, joined the department as a fireman in 1960 and rose through the ranks to captain. He was appointed chief by the City Council in 1979, replacing Keith Johnson, who retired.
Assistant Chief Fred Ripley has been appointed acting chief until a permanent one is hired for the 37-person department.
Lathrope said allegations of racial discrimination by a black firefighter from Texas who was rejected when he applied for a job in January played no part in his decision to retire.
Lynwood, with a population of 54,000, which is about 40% black, had no black firefighters when Houston firefighter Gregory E. Handy filed a $5-million claim against the city. The claim is pending. The department hired a black fireman on May 19. The department has one female and three Latino firefighters.