ROCKINGHAM — A week after starting work as fire chief, Harold Isler Jr. made it official by taking his oath of office Friday afternoon.
Joined by his wife Tesha, daughter Destiny, parents Elizabeth and Harold Isler Sr., and mother-in-law Tammy Sanders, the new chief swore to uphold the constitutions of the United States and North Carolina and serve the people of Rockingham.
Although he was called out to a fire alarm shortly before the ceremony, he still managed to make it on time.
“He’s off to a great start,” said City Manager Monty Crump. “Everything that I found out about him through a background check is everything I expected.”
Isler said the department has been called out to a car fire, two structure fires and a water rescue since he took over from now-retired Chief Charles Gardner.
He said he’s planning to give his department more training to be better prepared for water rescues following a situation when two lost kayakers on Hitchcock Creek wound up in the Cordova community.
“The operation went smoothly, but there’s always room for more training,” he said. “You can never have enough training.”
Isler said his main goal is to be more visible in the community, having firefighters out with the trucks and answering any questions kids or adults may have. He added that he’s planning a Fill-the-Boot campaign for the spring.
“It’s always good when the general public sees you,” he said. “Then people understand what we do.”
He said he’s also trying to bridge the gap between the nine fire departments in the county so they can work more “close-knit.”
Regarding his own department, Isler said he’s concentrating on revising standard operating guidelines and working on a career development manual.
He said the manual shows the perspectives from rookie fireman up to assistant chief and is designed to help further the careers of those under his supervision.
The Goldsboro native came to Rockingham after spending 17 years on his hometown fire department.
His father, a retired police officer, said he’s proud of his son’s accomplishments.
“I hope he can hang in Rockingham as the chief till he retires,” he said, “and trains someone to take his place when he leaves.”
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.