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Laguna Beach residents welcome new fire chief

New Fire Chief Niko King smiles as his girlfriend, Brooke Leal, pins his badge to his lapel.
New Fire Chief Niko King smiles as his girlfriend, Brooke Leal, pins his badge to his lapel during a presentation and swearing-in ceremony at Laguna Beach City Hall on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach has a new fire chief, and his name is Niko King.

The city announced King’s appointment last month, but King didn’t officially step into the position until Tuesday after a badge-pinning and swearing-in ceremony at Laguna Beach City Hall, where residents and officials alike conveyed their congratulations.

King, who has nearly three decades of experience, is the city’s 20th fire chief. He succeeds Mike Garcia, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

King comes to Laguna Beach from Northern California, where he was with the Sacramento Fire Department for 28 years, serving as its deputy chief for the last six years. King oversaw training as an assistant fire chief and spent years more as a strike team leader in the field.

Members of the Laguna Beach Fire Department pose with new Fire Chief Niko King.
Members of the Laguna Beach Fire Department pose with new Fire Chief Niko King, center, during his swearing-in ceremony at Laguna Beach City Hall on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

City staff report King will earn an estimated $225,500 annually.

“I am excited and honored to be selected to serve as the next chief for the Laguna Beach Fire Department,” King said in the statement announcing his new role. “I look forward to working with the great men and women of the fire department, the city’s leadership team, local residents and businesses owners in continuing to ensure the Department carries out its mission at the highest level.”

Much of Laguna Beach is designated as a severe fire hazard zone and has faced recent wildfire activity in both the Emerald fire, which occurred in February, and the nearby Coastal fire in Laguna Niguel. City officials have worked in recent years to mitigate fire risks through an outdoor emergency warning system, among other efforts.

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