“I have a lot of emotions,” said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, who announced his retirement after almost four decades with the department. After 11 years at the helm, he will serve his last day on July 30.
“I’m sad because [the department] has been a significant part of my life,” Osby told the Sentinel last week.
Osby is the ninth Los Angeles County fire chief and the first African American to serve in that capacity. He has overseen the delivery of fire suppression and life safety services to more than 4.1 million residents and commercial businesses in 59 cities and all unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, along with the City of La Habra located in Orange County.
Osby has also served as the chair of FIRESCOPE (FIrefighting REsources of Southern California Organized for Potential Emergencies), which consists of local, state, and federal fire agencies who coordinate training, incident command, mutual aid, and advisement to the Governor’s office on fire issues.
He is the Region I coordinator for mutual aid for Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, and San Luis Obispo Counties. Previously, he served on the California State Board of Fire Services, and is a former member and chair of the Los Angeles County Emergency Preparedness Commission.
He is leaving a legacy of more improved outreach efforts, a more inclusive workforce
According to the department website, “Cultivating a workforce that can meet the unique needs of the 21st Century [was] a challenge that Fire Chief Daryl Osby welcomed. He achieved this through strategic planning, in which his priorities included focusing on the safety and welfare of personnel and ensuring a service delivery model that meets the diverse needs of the communities [the department] protects.”
“I came up with a strategic plan for the business end of the department,” Osby said. “As [a service] we focused a lot on emergency work and less on the business of the organization. We train and spend most of our time preparing for disasters and emergencies
“So when I became fire chief, we had goals and objectives, but we didn’t have any type of strategic plan that we worked off of. So, I was really excited that we did that and that took us through 2020. Unfortunately because of COVID and other challenges, we still need to update that plan but I’m excited about that and we accomplished a lot of our goals.”
Osby was also instrumental in establishing a philanthropic arm of the department, which has helped fund a lot of the educational and youth programs.
“I am truly grateful for the amazing 38 years I have spent protecting the lives, property and environment of the residents of Los Angeles County, especially the last 11, in which I had the honor of serving as fire chief of the premiere fire department in the nation, if not the world,” Osby said in a news release.
Working with the community has been “exciting and rewarding,” Osby said, and the skills that he has learned like active listening and strategic planning he will take with him for the rest of his life.
“Things don’t happen, you have to plan,” he said. “I’ve also learned the importance of authentic relationships, the importance of listening skills and collaboration.”
As much as he has loved the department, Osby said he is looking forward to the next chapter of his life.
“I haven’t taken a vacation since… well, I’ve taken one vacation since I have been chief. So, I’m looking forward to spending time with my family,” he said.
“My profession has consumed me, almost 24/7, so I definitely plan to travel more.
“Day after day, we answered the call of those experiencing the worst day of their lives, whether they were in need of a lifesaving rescue, medical treatment or just a helping hand,” Osby said. “It is that unwavering commitment that inspired me to come in to work.”
Osby also said via a news release, that he will work with his executive team and the Board of Supervisors to develop a succession plan before his retirement.