U.S. Fire Administrator Named Atlanta Fire Chief

Less than a year after being sworn in as U.S. Fire Administrator, Kelvin Cochran is returning to his previous position as Atlanta's fire chief.

Mayor Kasim Reed has selected the current head of the U.S. fire service to lead his fire department, city spokeswoman Jennifer Ogunsola told Firehouse.com this afternoon.

Cochran was chosen for the job over Atlanta's Interim Chief Joel Baker and Deputy Chief Brenda Willis.

Sources have told Firehouse.com that there have been meetings on the National Fire Academy campus in Emmitsburg recently to ensure a seamless transition occurs. Assistant Administrator Glenn Gaines held the position before Cochran came on board. Sources said they expect him to be acting administrator again.

Earlier today, Firehouse.com senior staff writer Susan Nicol Kyle spoke to Cochran before he took the podium to address the annual NFPA conference in Las Vegas, but he said it would be premature for him to discuss the position in Atlanta.

"It's not a done deal. I don't want to ruin my chances. I want to be careful," he said.

During his speech, he told the audience, "The most memorable event in my life and career was being sworn in as U.S. Fire Administrator last year at IAFC."

Cochran previously served for 20 months as the head of the Atlanta Fire Department, but has said that he decided to take his current position after being approached by the Obama administration last May because the mayoral candidates being considered to take the spot of the city's outgoing mayor, Shirley Franklin, couldn't assure him that his job was safe.

"My interest was, foremost, the responsibility I have as the provider of my family for securing our economic future," Cochran said recently in an audio interview with Lt. Jim Daws, president of the Atlanta Professional Fire Fighters Association.

"I would have needed to have three commitments to have been assured of a job in January of 2010 and I didn't get that. I had to take on this tremendous opportunity and responsibility to work for our president."

During the interview, Cochran said that he had always planned to stay in Atlanta before his career went into a different direction.

He made the point clear that for him, returning to Atlanta would not be a step down, saying that the USFA position is "attractive for those that believe prestige and prominence as a mark of achievement it is the highest honor in the fire service . . . But I have not been one that has been that drawn to higher levels to promotion for prestige and prominence."

"My passion for leadership is at the local level,"

Daws, who spoke to Firehouse.com today said he believe Cochran could make a successful return to Atlanta, but that he would have some challenges ahead of him.

"If Cochran is appointed, I am confident he will be able to pick up where he left off. But he'll have some fences to mend with people who feel like he abandoned them after they bought into his program. I am confident though that he would be able to do that."