L.A.'s interim fire chief is appointed to permanent job

Brian Cummings, a Los Angeles Fire Department veteran and a champion of this year’s controversial redeployment plan, has been named the department’s new chief.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa notified him of the appointment over the weekend, and planned to announce the news Wednesday.

Cummings, 52, who joined the department in 1980 and has served as interim chief for the last two months, is a polarizing figure among firefighters because of the role he played in carrying out the plan to reorganize fire resources.


The plan, which did not result in layoffs, called for firetrucks or ambulances at about one-fourth of the city’s 106 fire stations to be put out of service. It helped trim $54 million from the department’s 2011-12 budget, and also earned Cummings the respect of Villaraigosa, who on Tuesday praised him as “the visionary architect” of the plan.

In an interview Tuesday, Cummings pledged to fight future budget reductions. “We are at our base level,” he said. “We don’t have any resources that we could cut at this time.”

Cummings said he believes the redeployment plan has helped stabilize the department because it put an end to unpopular rotating service brownouts.

He said he and other fire officials were continuing to “analyze our coverage for any gaps,” and that he would make any adjustments he deemed necessary.

Pat McOsker, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, which opposed the redeployment plan, said he hoped Cummings would restore some services. “We hope the guy who was committed to these closures will be committed to bringing them back,” he said.

Cummings said Tuesday that if the department got more money -- perhaps by doing a better job collecting ambulance bills -- he probably would hire more civilian staff and restore some ambulance services.

Cummings, who served as chief of staff to former Fire Chief Millage Peaks, took over as interim chief after Peaks stepped down in July.

He comes from a family of firefighters; his father was a 30-year veteran of the department and his brother is an L.A. fire captain.

Cummings’ appointment must be confirmed by the City Council.