LAFD Veteran Named Fire Chief of 3 Cities

In the wake of the success of hiring a big-city policeman, John Incontro, to be its police chief, the city of San Marino has dipped into the command ranks of the Los Angeles Fire Department to fill the position of fire chief in the tri-city command.
Mario Rueda, who has been a deputy chief with the LAFD for the past 15 years, on Tuesday was named chief of the Verdugo Cities Fire Command, and will oversee the fire departments of San Marino, San Gabriel and South Pasadena beginning Jan. 11.
He replaces Jim Frawley, who left to become fire chief in Santa Cruz in March. Kirk Summers has been the interim chief since June, working out of the San Gabriel FD.
Incontro was 57 and serving as commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Metropolitan Division when he was hired as San Marino’s police chief one year ago. Rueda has a similar background. Coming up on his 56th birthday, he has served as commander at some of L.A.’s major incidents, including the Port of Los Angeles wharf fire in 2014, the Chatsworth Metrolink crash in 2008 and the Griffith Park fire of 2007.
Rueda figures to be dealing with events of a much smaller scale in his new job.
And yet, he said, “One of the things we don’t get to enjoy is not being prepared. Although the frequency might be less, certainly the requisite risk associated with a big city compared to the communities of South Pasadena, San Marino and San Gabriel, and the level of preparedness that the public expects from their public safety professionals, is not any less.”
Rueda says he’s looking forward to fresh challenges in his career. “I think there are opportunities within the three cities to continue the work that was started by the previous chief and continued by Chief Summers in combining the three fire departments,” he said. “I do think this is one of those models that the fire service is going to have to work with in the future. These are exciting opportunities.”

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