LOS ANGELES (CBS) — After 35 years serving the Los Angeles Fire Department, Chief Millage Peaks announced Monday that he’s retiring.
Peaks, 58, made the announcement to his executive staff and thanked Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for selecting him to lead the department. He also thanked firefighters, civilian staff and volunteers, the Fire Commission and his family.
The chief plans on leaving the department on July 10.
“Chief Peaks leaves a more flexible department, with a greater capacity, that is prepared to meet the opportunities and realities of the 21st century,” department spokesman Capt. Jaime Moore said.
The fire chief announced that most of the programs he has overseen have been completed or are coming to fruition, and it is a good time to begin his retirement, according to Moore.
Peaks is leaving the department with a balanced budget and he believes firefighters are close to solidifying a multi-year contract with the city, Moore said.
Peaks, the department’s second black chief, took the helm in September 2009. He led the fire department through a recent $54 million budget cut and a restructuring that culminated in a permanent redeployment plan finalized in May — the city’s first new deployment plan in more than 40 years.
Peaks also oversaw the planning and implementation of an automated billing system for ambulance calls that is estimated to save the city millions of dollars in traditionally late and lost revenue.
During his tenure, fire fatalities declined by 47 percent, according to the department.
“In 2009, I was confident Chief Peaks was the right leader to manage the LAFD in the midst of the most difficult financial time the department had ever faced,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement. “At that moment of great challenge, he managed carefully and led with decisive action to creatively solve the department’s complex fiscal situation.”
Villaraigosa spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said Peaks told the mayor about his retirement last Thursday. She said it is too soon to know when Villaraigosa will name a replacement, but that he would consider all applicants from inside and outside of the department.
Unlike the police chief, who must be approved by the Police Commission, the fire chief serves at the mayor’s discretion and can be appointed through an executive search conducted by the Personnel Department, or the mayor’s office can do its own search and simply nominate the next chief, who would need to be approved by the City Council.
Hamilton said Villaraigosa is likely to go through the Personnel Department and gather input from inside and outside city government, as he did in the selection process for Police Chief Charlie Beck.
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