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L.A. Fire Chief Resigns Amid Controversy Over Lagging Response Times

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Brian Cummings attends the premiere of Relativity Media's 'Act of Valor' at ArcLight Cinemas on February 13, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
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With the Fire Department plagued by questions about response times, chief Brian Cummings will step down at the end of the month Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today.

"By mutual agreement, we've come to an understanding on a leadership change with Chief Cummings,'' Garcetti said. "He'll be stepping aside as chief.''

Although Cummings will officially retire in February after working for the department since 1980, former fire captain and current head of the Emergency Management Department James Featherstone will take his place as acting Fire Chief on November 1. Featherstone will return to the EMD once Cummings' replacement is found.

Cummings was hired at a time when the Fire Department was faced with budget cuts in 2011. He introduced a cost cutting plan

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Things came to a head in 2012 when the Fire Department admitted to publishing faulty response times.

Frank Lima, president of the city's firefighters' union praised the resignation.

"The Fire Department is at a crossroads and is in desperate need of strong leadership,'' Lima told City News Service. "Funding has been decimated and hundreds of firefighters and paramedics have left due to attrition and retirement without a single firefighter being hired over the past five years.

"As a result, response times in Los Angeles have risen, the credibility of the department has been called into question, staff morale is low and both public and firefighter safety has been put at greater risk."

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