BOSTON (AP) – Maine native Roderick Fraser Jr. has been appointed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino as the city’s new fire commissioner.

Fraser Jr., 42, will take over Tuesday from Paul Christian, who retired in January after 38 years with the fire department after serving as commissioner since 2001. Fraser’s appointment marks the first time since 1968 that the commissioner has come from outside the department.

Fraser grew up in East Millinocket and Millinocket, Maine, and served 20 years in the Navy. His last assignment was commander of a frigate assigned to protect offshore oil terminals in Iraq.

Fraser has no experience in municipal fire departments. However, Menino said he was looking for someone who could prepare the department to deal with terrorist threats and institute changes in the firefighting force. A report commissioned by Menino in 2000 recommended that the mayor look outside the department for a commissioner.

“He has a different view of what’s going on,” Menino said. “Fresh face. Fresh voice. Fresh ideas. That’s what he is.”

Menino said he will name a fire chief to help in the day-to-day running of the department, and to implement Fraser’s decisions. In a statement, the Boston Firefighters Union on Tuesday said it was open to working with Fraser as it wants to “prepare our department for an inevitable terrorist attack.”

Fraser, who now lives in Cranston, R.I., has relatives in northern Maine’s Katahdin region. Fraser lived in that area until he was 18, the Bangor Daily News said.

“I remember how people there were very hardworking and self-reliant, so I learned the lesson of being hardworking and self-reliant,” said Fraser, recalling his youth in Maine.


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