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Mayor Appoints Acting Chief of Fire Department

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After the Los Angeles Fire Department controversy and the Friday retirement of Chief Bamattre, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has appointed Douglas L. Barry, a 31 year veteran of the department. Barry has held a plethora of positions within LAFD including a battalion chief for 2 areas, head of the operation office and chief of staff.

Also, Villaraigosa didn't know him until last week:

I’ll let you in on a secret: I didn’t know Chief Barry until this week. The people you see behind me brought him to my attention. They told me about an Assistant Chief who has earned the respect of his colleagues and the wider community because of his natural leadership, his dedication to teamwork, and his unwavering belief in the Department’s core mission of responding to emergencies and saving lives.

Chief Barry knows our community like the back of his hand.

Villaraigosa's full speach can be found after the jump.
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I want to begin this morning with a message to the outstanding men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department. I want to thank each and every one of you for the hard work and the sacrifices you make every day for our City.

You're there 24-7 to protect our families, our homes, our businesses, and our lives.

I want to make the Los Angeles Fire Department a better place all those who serve us every day.

And so, it is my great honor to announce the appointment of Douglas L. Barry to lead the Los Angeles Fire Department.

And let me tell you:

Doug Barry is truly a man for the hour.

He has the precise qualities we need to guide this Department through the interim!

Chief Barry is a born leader and a consummate professional.

As Interim Chief, he'll bring intensity* intelligence* and integrity.
More than that, he'll provide an intimate knowledge of this great department.

He is a 31-year veteran with an exemplary record, as a firefighter on the line, as an engineer, as a captain, as a leading battalion chief, as a chief of staff, and as an assistant chief.

This is a man who has faced every challenge there is to face* all the way from the firehouse to the Chief's office and everywhere in between.

And at every rung on the ladder, Chief Barry has earned the respect and support of the many hard-working and dedicated fire fighters in the service.

As you can see behind me, the LA Fire Department's command staff and the leaders of each of the employee associations are standing shoulder-to-shoulder, side-by-side with Chief Barry.

I'll let you in on a secret: I didn't know Chief Barry until this week. The people you see behind me brought him to my attention.

They told me about an Assistant Chief who has earned the respect of his colleagues and the wider community because of his natural leadership, his dedication to teamwork, and his unwavering belief in the Department's core mission of responding to emergencies and saving lives.

Chief Barry knows our community like the back of his hand.

He was raised in Southern California. He was born in San Pedro and grew up in the South Bay. He attended Narbonne High School in L.A., then Harbor College and Cal State Long Beach.

And Chief Barry is also a community leader. He's a proud father of three daughters, and he serves as Deacon Chairman and Trustee of his church in San Pedro.

Chief Barry is all these things* and more.

And let me tell you why I decided to hire him.

This man looked me in the eyes and told me that he's not interested in power, position, or permanent office.

He's a firefighter to the core. He jumps when he hears a siren. He responds whenever and wherever he's called.

And because he's a firefighter, Chief Barry knows that we can't wait to take bold measures.

He told me he intends to put the action in "Acting Chief."

He doesn't want to stay the course. He intends to CHANGE the course.

And he views the interim position as a unique opportunity to make permanent change in the Department he loves.

The Chief and I share the same values and the same vision of where the Department is, and where it needs to go.

I am charging him with several important goals:

First, we're going to create a culture in every single fire station where mutual respect is the "golden rule" - where hazing and harassment are eliminated.

That means delivering a firm and clear message to the entire Department that the practice of hazing has got to stop now.

I've asked the Chief to work in partnership with the Fire Commission to implement a firm and fair disciplinary process. One that brings greater accountability to employees and supervisors up and down the line.

And we're going to create a unit in the department responsible for investigating and tracking all complaints of misconduct.

Second, we're going fight discrimination whenever and wherever we find it.

We're going to communicate clearly that there are consequences for this conduct.

We're going to bolster our human relations unit to give our people the professional development and training they need to work productively in a diverse workforce.

The Chief and the Commission will create an Equal Opportunity unit to provide employees a place to go when they face problems in the workplace.

Third, the Chief and I are going to reach out to every firehouse in Los Angeles.

The Chief told me that he intends to visit each of the 103 fire stations in the City.

He'll seek the input and the assistance of our frontline firefighters and deliver the message that this is a team where everyone matters and everyone deserves respect.

And we're going to recruit and train a Fire Department that looks more like Los Angeles.

We'll spearhead a comprehensive recruiting strategy to reach out to women and underrepresented communities.

And we're going to foster an environment in which diversity is embraced at all levels.

Finally, we're going to demand accountability and responsibility at every level of the Department.

A foundation for many of these important goals has been laid by the work of our reform-minded Fire Commission.

They put in long hours to develop an action plan and implement a new set of disciplinary guidelines to address these concerns.

This is hard work, and I am confident that Chief Barry will boldly confront these challenges as our new Fire Chief.

A respected Fire Chief from another city put it this way: "Every department struggles with these issues. You either take them on directly, comprehensively, transparently, inclusively, and for the long haul, or you fail. And you are never done."

So, please, join me in welcoming a new Fire Chief, who will deal directly, comprehensively, transparently, inclusively, and who will put us on a long term path to change.

Please, welcome LA's next Fire Chief, Douglas L. Barry.

Photo from the LAFD flickr page