An African American man in an Oakland Fire Department dress uniform speaks at a podium. Behind him are Oakland's mayor, members of the City Council, and a fire engine.
Damon Covington speaking outside an Oakland Fire Station in May after his appointment as interim chief. Credit: Courtesy of Oakland Fire Department

Damon Covington has been serving as interim fire chief for the city of Oakland since June.

Today, Mayor Sheng Thao and City Administrator Jestin Johnson announced Covington will stay in the post permanently.

“As Fire Chief, I will work tirelessly to protect and enhance the health and safety of our dedicated members, ensure we always have the tools and resources needed to fulfill the mission, and develop data-driven solutions to address the specific safety needs within Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods,” Covington said in a statement.

Covington joined OFD 24 years ago and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the department’s captain of training, then a battalion chief, and later the chief of special operations. He recently served as a deputy fire chief until he was elevated to run the department after the previous chief, Reginald Freeman left in May.

“I am thrilled that Chief Covington has accepted this important appointment to become the next chief of our proud Oakland Fire Department,” said Mayor Sheng Thao.

Covington studied sociology at Sonoma State University and obtained a master’s degree in executive public administration from Golden Gate University. He is currently an adjunct professor at Merritt College where he teaches fire science. A graduate of Bishop O’Dowd High School, Covington moved to the East Bay when he was a child.

Covington is also a past president of the Oakland Black Firefighters Association, a group that helps create opportunities for African Americans in fire and paramedic fields.

Before joining The Oaklandside as News Editor, Darwin BondGraham was a freelance investigative reporter covering police and prosecutorial misconduct. He has reported on gun violence for The Guardian and was a staff writer for the East Bay Express. He holds a doctorate in sociology from UC Santa Barbara and was the co-recipient of the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017. He is also the co-author of The Riders Come Out at Night, a book examining the Oakland Police Department's history of corruption and reform.