LA County Fire Department to swear in 1st black chief

New L.A. County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby
New L.A. County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby
L.A. County Fire Department

The Los Angeles County Fire Department will have its first black fire chief today when Daryl Osby is sworn in as head of the 4,400-person agency.

The 27-year veteran of the department was chosen by the Board of Supervisors, with his appointment finalized this week.

"Daryl Osby's impressive background makes him the right choice for this demanding job," Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. "He has extensive executive experience, a comprehensive understanding of emergency fire and medical services and, of course, years of on-the-ground firefighting experience."

Osby was a top commander during many of the region's most challenging fire crises, including the Catalina Island fire of 2007, the 2005 Topanga Fire and the California fire siege in 2003, when 15 wildfires ravaged Southern California in the space of a month, according to Ridley-Thomas. He was deployed to Louisiana for 18 days following Hurricane Katrina to assist with the region's comprehensive recovery planning.

He also has a long history of community involvement and mentoring, including the L.A. Junior Firefighters Foundation, Youth for Excellence Foundation and the Inglewood YMCA.

Osby, who joined the county department in 1984, will succeed retiring fire Chief P. Michael Freeman, who served as the department's commander for 21 years.