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Oakland City Officials Swear In New Fire Chief Reginald Freeman

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Oakland city officials swore in Reginald Freeman Monday as the city's new fire chief, who promised to keep the city safe and diversify its membership.

At a ceremony Monday morning, City Administrator Ed Reiskin said that the 42-year-old Freeman can handle the unique challenges Oakland faces, such as lengthening wildfire seasons and a growing population of unsheltered persons.

"We were really seeking an extraordinary candidate and I believe we found him in Reginald Freeman," Reiskin said.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also praised Freeman's bonafides before swearing him in.

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New Oakland Fire Chief Reginald Freeman being sworn in (CBS SF)

"What impressed us the most was your style of leadership. Your humility. Your ability to build on the good ideas that await you in the department," Schaaf said. "We don't need the sun to shine to know it is a beautiful day in Oakland."

Freeman comes to Oakland from Hartford, Conn., where he served as the emergency management director for five years. Before then, Freeman worked as the fire chief for Lockheed Martin and was a civilian fire chief in Iraq from 2004 to 2008 for the U.S. Department of Defense.

He took over the Oakland Fire Chief position from Deputy Chief Melinda Drayton, who served as a temporary chief after former OFD chief Darin White left to take the job as San Rafael's fire chief.

After being sworn in, Freeman praised city officials, prior fire chiefs such as Drayton -- "she stepped up in a remarkable way" -- and the department itself, who he said he was happy to entrust with protecting his wife and two daughters.

"If I can trust Oakland firefighters with keeping my family safe, so can every citizen," Freeman said.

Previewing what he plans to do as chief, Freeman discussed recruiting programs that focus on increasing diversity in the department, describing it as looking to the "future of firefighting" in the city.


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