Larry Rooney, 51, who currently serves as the deputy chief of the Peoria Fire Department in Arizona, has been selected as Lodi’s new fire chief.
He starts the first week of January 2012 if the city approves his appointment at their city council meeting Nov. 16, said city manager Rad Bartlam.
Rooney was selected from a diverse pool of 48 applicants that included a member of the Lodi Fire Department.
“I spent several hours with (Rooney) talking about different things,” Bartlam said. “I was convinced he had the technical capabilities to be able to head a fire service. But what I tend to do is look for ... how well I think they will deal with particular departments and how well they will fit in with the management teams and the structure of city.”
Rooney will succeed Dan Haverty, who has served on an interim basis as Lodi’s fire chief since May, following the retirement of Kevin Donnelly.
Rooney, originally from Costa Mesa, 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.
“Firefighting, for me, has always been a passion,” he said. “It’s a calling. It’s about doing things for others and that really all you need. I guess you can say I got in it for all the right reasons.”
Once in Lodi, Rooney said he does not have immediate plans as fire chief. Rather, he says he plans on listening and getting to know those whom he will be working with, saying it would be “presumptuous” to start in his new position with plans for change within the department.
“I look forward to coming out and being a part of something that has a really good reputation of providing services to the citizens of Lodi,” he said. “I love Arizona and everything it has give me and my family ... but I am looking forward to coming back to California. Growing up here, you kind of miss it after a while.”
The city hired executive search firm Bob Murray & Associates of Roseville to evaluate the initial applications and from that choose eight potential candidates.
The city then took over the process, interviewing the eight individuals selected by the firm, and from that, four candidates for the position were brought in for a second round of interviews.
Each applicant met with three different panels — one made up of citizens from the community, one consisting of city staff and city department heads and one entirely of fire chiefs.
Bartlam added that not only did he find Rooney to be the right man for the job, but so did the other three panels that interviewed him.
“The community will find him engaging and extremely dedicated to public service,” Bartlam said. “He will be a real asset here.”
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.