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Marta Segura appointed as Los Angeles' first Chief Heat Officer

Marta Segura appointed as L.A.'s first Chief Heat Officers as temperatures continue global rise
Marta Segura appointed as L.A.'s first Chief Heat Officers as temperatures continue global rise 02:28

The City of Los Angeles appointed its first-ever Chief Heat Officer during a press conference Friday morning. 

Marta Segura will hold the new title, in what came from a motion initially attributed to L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian. She becomes the first person of Latin descent to hold such a position in the United States.

Los Angeles now joins other major American metropolises like Phoenix and Miami with an officer who will "oversee the City's response to extreme heat events," as detailed by a city press release.

The release continued to note that Segura, whose previous position was Director of Climate Emergency Mobilization, will now work with Departments of Planning, Emergency Management, Recreation and Parks and Building and Safety to prepare a Heat Action Plan, which will contain a warning system, interagency emergency response plans and long-term strategies to reduce exposure.

The plan will also work in coordination with StreetsLA and the Department of Water and Power. 

Among her first priorities, Segura plans to tackle heat-related deaths and hospitalizations, which occur more often in low-income communities.

"Most of our low-income rentals don't come with AC, or much less air-filtration systems," Segura said at the appointment ceremony. "We're going to be approaching that more systemically by looking at our building codes and we're going to be creating a climate vulnerability assessment that's going to give us very accurate data across the City of Los Angeles, to create that Heat Action Plan."

The position was created for several reasons, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency disclosure that identified L.A. County as the nation's most vulnerable to several natural hazards, including heat waves. In Sept. 2021, Los Angeles reported a staggering temperature of 121 degrees, part of the many heat waves that strike the area. 

David Eisenman, a specialist in public health with the UCLA School of Medicine, also spoke at Friday's event where he said, "On any day with extreme heat, emergency rooms in Los Angeles see an additional one-thousand five-hundred patients. We estimate an additional sixteen people die on a single day of heat in Los Angeles County, and that by the fifth day of a heat wave there are 40 extra deaths that day."

"As global temperatures rise, the frequency and intensity of heat waves will increase the risk of wildfires while stressing our power grid and threatening public transit and other public infrastructure," the release continued.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Krekorian, as well as fellow Council members Bob Blumenfield and Paul Koretz were in attendance as Los Angeles' first Chief Heat Officer was appointed Friday. 

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