Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin J. Cochran is leaving the city to join the Obama Administration as U.S. Fire Administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Department of Homeland Security, according to a White House press release.

Cochran was nominated along with nine other individuals to key administration posts by President Barack Obama on July 7.

“Each of these individuals brings with them valuable expertise in their respective fields, and I am grateful for their decision to serve in my administration,” President Obama said in the statement.

Cochran has 28 years of experience from firefighter to chief training officer to fire chief, according to the press release. He took over as Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. Prior to becoming Atlanta’s chief, he served as fire chief in Shreveport, LA beginning in 1999.

Cochran has also served as the president of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association and vice chairman of Volunteers of America and first vice president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

“It is remarkable to think that my childhood dream of being a firefighter has taken me from the front porch of a shotgun house in Shreveport, Louisiana, to becoming the head of the United States Fire Administration,” Cochran said in Atlanta.

“I am honored and humbled to have been nominated to serve the administration of President Obama and the American people through the United States Fire Administration,” he stated. “I look forward to working with the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Director Craig Fugate to enhance America’s Fire Service role in preparedness and response, and protecting life and property.”

The U.S. fire administrator oversees the coordination and direction of national fire prevention and firefighting efforts. Cochran will also oversee safety education and professional development programs, as well.

Atlanta Fire Spokesman Capt. Bill May said it’s unclear when Cochran will leave his post for the federal position.

“Kelvin will play a vital role in strengthening our fire prevention and emergency management capabilities across the country,” said Napolitano. “Working closely with our state and local partners, Kelvin will lead our nationwide efforts to prepare for and respond to fire emergencies.”

–John Schaffner