Lodi City Clerk Randi Johl smiled as she watched Lodi's newest fire chief, Larry Rooney, raise his right hand at his induction ceremony Thursday.
"I'll ask you the same question I asked Chief Helms, 'Are you ready?'" she said.
Rooney smiled and nodded. "Absolutely," he said.
Many of Lodi's leaders and city employees were on hand to welcome Rooney at Thursday's ceremony at Carnegie Forum, including Mayor JoAnne Mounce, Fire Capt. Brad Doell and Lodi Fire Department division chief Amy New.
All reiterated the same sentiments: Welcome to the family.
"I like to think that when people come to Lodi, they are lucky to have found us," Mounce said. "But today, Lodi is lucky to have found you, Larry."
Former interim Chief Dan Haverty even made the trek down from his home in El Dorado Hills to pass over command, something Rooney said he appreciated as Haverty had become a mentor to him in the short time the two knew each other.
And while the new fire chief took his new post with a straight face, he certainly found room to make a few jokes that left everyone smiling.
Also in the audience were Rooney's brother, Richard, and Rooney's son, Daniel.
Richard Rooney pinned his brother's badge onto his suit jacket, while Rooney's son added additional insignia onto Rooney's lapel.
"This could be the longest part of the ceremony," Daniel Rooney said. "My apologies."
After the conclusion of the ceremony, Rooney addressed the ceremony, thanking them for the warm introduction to a new city and his new job.
As he began to speak, each firefighter in the audience suddenly received a notice asking them to respond to an emergency medical call.
Rooney smiled and sighed as he watched his fellow firefighters listen intently.
"Please, don't run away," he said, causing the audience to laugh. "But in all honesty, duty first."
Rooney, who began his new position Tuesday, said he is looking forward to getting to know those he works with as well as his new city.
And though he has only been on the job a few days, Rooney has already been exposed to a sample of how the fire department functions when duty calls.
Rooney headed out to see the fire on Meadow Drive on Tuesday, hoping to catch a glimpse of his department in action.
As he approached the smoking house, a firefighter came up to him and asked if he was the homeowner.
A Lodi police officer also asked what Rooney was doing as he stood near the firemen at work.
"I just smiled and told him I was the new fire chief," Rooney said. "The officer was great, and I know he had no idea who I was because I wasn't in uniform. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone here."
Rooney, 51, is originally from Costa Mesa, and said he grew up around fire departments, as his father served for 30 years with the Los Angeles Fire Department.
He began his career as a reserve firefighter in Huntington Beach before moving to Peoria, Ariz. in 1984 to work as a firefighter.
Rooney was selected out of 48 applicants for the position, and he was approved for the job on Nov. 16 by the Lodi City Council. He moved to Lodi only last week.
"I am looking forward to being a part of something that has a really good reputation of providing services to the people of Lodi," he said.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at email@example.com.