AUBURN — A former assistant fire chief from a fast-growing Dallas suburb has been picked to lead the city's Fire Department.
Frank Roma, from McKinney, Texas, will be the new fire chief, said police Chief Phil Crowell, who sat on the committee tasked with finding a new fire chief.
Roma retired from his position in McKinney eight months ago and since has been interim fire chief in nearby Anna, Texas.
Roma is scheduled to begin the Auburn job in September. He needed some time to wrap things up in Texas and get moved out, Crowell said.
Roma said he was assistant chief in McKinney for 21 years, during a period of unprecedented growth.
"When I came to McKinney, there were two fire stations and 29,000 people," he said. "When I left, there were eight stations and 135,000 people. That came in 21 years, but the vast majority was within in the last 10 years. It was just a roller coaster and it gave us a great opportunity to do some very creative things in the fire service."
McKinney said he's a northeastern boy at heart. He grew up around Philadelphia and his family vacationed in Maine when he was a kid.
"In some respects, I feel like I'm coming home," he said. "People down here look at you like you're crazy when you say you miss snow. And I may say I'm crazy, too, after dealing with 10 feet of it."
The position has been empty since Wayne Werts retired in March 2010.
The city formed a hiring committee to review candidates, and they selected three finalists from a list of 40. The committee, which included City Manager Clinton Deschene, Human Resources Director Deb Grimmig, Crowell and Jeff Cammack, the City of Bangor's former fire chief, brought those three to Auburn for interviews last month.
Roma, 55, came to McKinney in 1991 from Springfield, Pa., where he was chief of that town's volunteer fire department. Before that, he worked as a firefighter in Norristown and Montgomery County, Pa., and as battalion chief in Mankato, Minn.
Roma said his meetings with staff during his interviews convinced him that Auburn would be a good place to work.
"The staff I met during the process, they sealed the deal," he said. "They seem like a very professional, very caring, very dedicated group."