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Brian Cummings is named interim chief of L.A. Fire Department

A veteran firefighter who helped implement the Los Angeles Fire Department’s controversial redeployment plan has been named interim chief of the department.

Brian Cummings, who served as chief of staff for outgoing Chief Millage Peaks, will hold the post until Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa names a permanent replacement.

In a statement Thursday, the mayor said Cummings is well suited to carry out 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.

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Peaks, who announced his retirement last month after 22 months as chief, 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 protest 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.

His appointment has sparked resentment among some firefighters who opposed the redeployment.

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 Cummings should focus on safety and training because of the cuts.

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Cummings, who joined the LAFD in 1980, comes from a family of Los Angeles firefighters. His father was a 30-year veteran of the department and his brother is an LAFD captain.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com


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