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Mayor names an acting LAFD chief to succeed Brian Cummings

October 10, 2013|By Ben Welsh and Michael Finnegan

James Featherstone, head of Los Angeles' Emergency Management Department, will step in as acting fire chief Nov. 1 and serve until a permanent chief is selected, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti. Featherstone is a former LAFD captain.

The annoucement followed news that current Chief Brian Cummings would retire as head of the city Fire Department.

Cummings had struggled to restore confidence in his management of the 3,500-employee Fire Department after officials admitted last year to misstating response times, making it appear that rescuers arrived faster than they actually did.

During his campaign, Garcetti said he lacked confidence in the fire chief's leadership and second-guessed a series of the chief's management decisions.

Many of the department’s problems have been blamed on it often outdated technology. Members of the city Fire Commission, the county’s Civil Grand Jury and the City Council have called for a sweeping overhaul of the department’s data systems.

Garcetti echoed those concerns in an interview Thursday.

“For a long time, we haven’t been able to implement technological change that we need quickly enough,” Garcetti said.

“I want us to have better implementation of technology systems and good data. Those remain priorities for me – make sure we can measure things that are real, to implement as swift changes as possible, and to reduce our response times. That will be a combination of leadership and resources, and I hope to bring both.”

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ben.welsh@latimes.com

michael.finnegan@latimes.com

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