Keving CochranAtlanta says it terminated its fire chief because he published a book without permission. The real reason is because of what’s in it.

Kelvin Cochran has led a remarkable life by any standard. He was born into a poor family in Shreveport, La., in 1960 that became even poorer after his father walked out and left his mother to raise six children alone. “After he left, we couldn’t afford to live in the projects anymore,” he once told an interviewer.

Mr. Cochran aspired to be a firefighter from age 5, and he eventually was appointed Shreveport’s first black fire chief in 1999. In 2008 he became the fire chief of Atlanta. And In 2009 President Obama appointed him U.S. fire administrator, the top position in the profession.

At the urging of Democratic Mayor Kasim Reed, Mr. Cochran returned to his post in Atlanta in 2010 and continued to impress. In 2012, after more than 30 years of service, he was given a Fire Chief of the Year Award by Fire Chief magazine. In a related press release, the mayor’s office said that “under Chief Cochran’s leadership, the department has seen dramatic improvements in response times and staffing.” Mr. Reed added: “Chief Cochran’s pioneering efforts to improve performance and service within the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department have won him much-deserved national recognition.”

But a year ago, Mr. Cochran was suspended for 30 days without pay, pending an investigation into his behavior.

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