Kelvin J. Cochran

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Kelvin J. Cochran
FEMA - 41848 - Kelvin Cochran, Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency US Fire Administration.jpg
U.S. Fire Administrator
In office
January 1, 2009 – May 8, 2010
Preceded byGregory B. Cade
Succeeded byGlenn A. Gaines
Fire Chief, Atlanta Fire Department, Atlanta, Georgia
In office
August 16, 2010 – January 6, 2015
Preceded byJoel G. Baker
Succeeded byJoel G. Baker
(named Interim Chief)
Personal details
Born (1960-01-23) January 23, 1960 (age 58)
Shreveport, Louisiana
ParentsGeorge and Jane Houston Cochran
ResidenceAtlanta, Georgia
OccupationFire Chief; author

Kelvin J. Cochran (born January 23, 1960) is an author, public speaker, former Administrator of the United States Fire Administration, and former Fire Chief of Atlanta Fire Department. He was fired from the Atlanta fire department after he wrote a book for members of his church expressing biblical views on sexuality, adultery, and homosexuality.

Early life[edit]

Cochran was first hired by Shreveport Fire Department in 1981 serving as a trainer and assistant fire chief. Mayor Keith Hightower later appointed him the first African-American fire chief of Shreveport, Louisiana August 26, 1999.[1] He helped the New Orleans Fire Department in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina[2] and went on to serve positions in the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) from 2006 to 2007.

He worked under mayor Kasim Reed starting January 2, 2008 for Atlanta Fire Department, prior to being appointed US Fire Administrator in July 2009 by President Barack Obama where he worked extensively with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the United States Department of Homeland Security to prevent fires and improve fire response. He maintained this role until returning to Atlanta on May 8, 2010 and being re-appointed as Fire Chief of Atlanta Fire Department August 16, 2010.[3]

Suspension and firing[edit]

Cochran was suspended for 30 days without pay starting November 24, 2014 for distributing to employees a book he had written, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, which expressed Cochran's religious views which included calling homosexuality and lesbianism a perversion and which mayor Kasim Reed considered to be discriminatory against LGBT people.[4] On January 6, 2015, after returning from the suspension, he was informed that he would have to resign or be terminated.[5][6]

A rally was held in Atlanta on January 13 in support of Cochran, with various leaders of faith attending including Bishop Wellington Boone, president of the Fellowship of International Churches.[7]

Deputy Chief Joel Baker has replaced Cochran as the active fire chief of Atlanta Fire Department.[8]

On February 18, 2015, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Cochran by the public interest law organization Alliance Defending Freedom on grounds of "religious discrimination" against the City of Atlanta. The case, Cochran v. City of Atlanta, was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.[9] A petition on March 25 for the case to be dismissed was denied.[10] On October 14, May said she would soon issue her ruling.[11] On December 16, 2015, Judge May ruled that the lawsuit could proceed.[12]

$1.2 million payout by City of Atlanta[edit]

On December 20th, 2017, United States District Court Judge Leigh Martin May upheld his firing and also ruled that as an "at-will" employee, his firing was legal. The City's pre-clearance rules on employee outside activities were, however, ruled unconstitutional.[13]. On October 15th, 2018, the City Council agreed to pay Cochran $1.2 million as compensation for damages and attorney's fees.[14][15]

On October 16th, 2018, the City of Atlanta agreed to pay Cochran $1.2 million for violating his First Amendment rights. The amount covers damages and attorney's fees.[16]


  • Who Told You That You Were Naked? Paperback, ISBN 978-0985496852

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Oral History Project - Civil Rights; Kelvin J. Cochran". Archived from the original on 2015-02-06.
  2. ^ "Meet the Chief: Kelvin Cochran, Atlanta Fire Department". FireRescue1. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  3. ^ "Fire Department Members". Archived from the original on 2013-08-29.
  4. ^ "Atlanta fire chief suspended after distributing his religious book to employees". Washington Post. November 26, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  5. ^ "Fire chief defends his stance on homosexuality". Times-Herald. January 7, 2015. Archived from the original on January 10, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  6. ^ "Fire chief fired after gay comments in book". USA Today. January 7, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  7. ^ "Rally backs fired Atlanta fire chief whose book has anti-gay comments". CNN. January 13, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  8. ^ "Atlanta Chief Cochran Suspended After Penning Book Condemning Homosexuality". Firehouse. November 24, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  9. ^ "Former Atlanta fire chief sues over his firing". Times-Herald. February 20, 2015. Archived from the original on February 26, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  10. ^ Wetzstein, Cheryl (March 26, 2015). "Ex-Atlanta Fire Chief Cochran didn't get written permission to write religious book: City lawyers - Attorneys seek dismissal of his wrongful-firing lawsuit". Washington Times. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  11. ^ Wetzstein, Cheryl (October 14, 2015). "Attorneys for Kelvin Cochran tell court he was wrongfully terminated". Washington Times. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Beasley, David (December 17, 2015). "Lawsuit by ex-Atlanta fire chief critical of homosexuality to proceed". Reuters. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  13. ^ Williams, Dave. "Court upholds firing of former Atlanta fire chief". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  14. ^ AMANDA PRESTIGIACOMO (16 October 2018). "Atlanta To Pay Out $1.2 Million To Christian Fire Chief After Violating His First Amendment Rights". The Daily Wire. Retrieved 17 October 2018. After a December 2017 ruling found that the city discriminated against Mr. Cochran and violated his First Amendment rights by firing him for expressing Christian views with which they disagree, the city council on Monday agreed to pay out $1.2 million to the former chief for damages and attorneys' fees, reports Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization which represented Mr. Cochran.
  15. ^ "Atlanta City Council Votes To Settle Ex-Fire Chief's Lawsuit For $1.2 Million". CBS Atlanta. Associated Press. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018. Atlanta’s City Council has voted to settle a $1.2 million lawsuit brought by the city’s former fire chief who was dismissed after he wrote a book that included anti-gay passages.
  16. ^ "Atlanta To Pay Out $1.2 Million To Christian Fire Chief After Violating His First Amendment Rights". Daily Wire. 2018-10-16. Retrieved 2018-10-17.

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