A veteran battalion chief for the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department in Virginia has been hired as the new full-time fire chief for the town of Winslow.

The Town Council voted 6-0 Monday night to confirm the appointment of Ronald Rodriguez from among four candidates interviewed for the job, according to Winslow Town Manager Michael Heavener.

Heavener said Tuesday that Rodriguez, who starts the job Monday, was one of 13 people, including one in-house candidate, to apply for the position.

“He has a depth of experience, and I think he is going to be beneficial for the town of Winslow and with the Fire Department and perhaps even to surrounding fire agencies,” Heavener said.

As chief, Rodriguez — who prefers to be called “Ronnie” — will supervise six full-time and several call firefighters and receive an annual salary of $72,000, plus vacation and sick time and a retirement plan, according to Heavener. Rodriguez will provide his own health insurance, he said.

The Winslow Town Council voted 7-0 on June 11 to no longer share a fire chief with the city of Waterville. David LaFountain, chief of both the Waterville and Winslow departments, retired this summer, and Shawn Esler was hired as the new Waterville fire chief.

Esler receives $68,000 in salary and $350 per month in vehicle allowance, according to City Manager Mike Roy. The city’s share of his health insurance is $19,000 per year for dental and health.

LaFountain earned $84,470 and received the same benefits as Esler.

Rodriguez, 57, of Toms Brook, Virginia, said in his application cover letter to Heavener that he lives in Virginia but has close ties to Maine and the Bangor area, and one of his sons attends University of Maine, in Orono. His wife is from New England and her family lives in Holden and Brewer, his letter says.

“It has been my desire to retire from Fairfax and relocate to the local area to be close to family and enjoy the community and quality of life this region provides,” it says.

Rodriguez said in a phone interview Tuesday from Holden that he and his family are anxious to get settled in Maine.

“I’m really looking forward to serving the community and the town of Winslow and have taken on several things already, and I’m attending some meetings,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he planned to attend a meeting Tuesday night at the Fire Department and leave Wednesday for Virginia ahead of Hurricane Florence to attend his son’s wedding over the weekend and secure his bees — he is also a beekeeper — before returning to Maine to officially start his job Monday. He said the community has been welcoming, having hosted a potluck supper Saturday for him and his family.

“The support we’ve received from the Fire Department and the community, helping us transition, has been overwhelming,” he said. “What a great community.”

He said he is anxious to get to know more people and welcomes the community to an open house Sept. 29 at the fire station. He said the employees of the Fire Department have been terrific.

“What a great bunch of people,” he said. “They have absolutely extended the welcome mat and gone above and beyond to make the family feel welcomed and a part of the Winslow community and the Fire Department.”

Rodriguez had been employed by Fairfax County Fire & Rescue, based in Annandale, Virginia, for more than 25 years. He advanced through the ranks to his final position, in which he supervised more than 60 uniformed employees at five stations and was responsible for the incident command of an approximately 36-square-mile area, including mutual aid with surrounding departments.

Rodriguez has responded to and was commander of several significant incidents, some of which were lengthy campaigns requiring the use of a unified command structure that brought together federal and local agencies and departments, according to his letter to the town. As a result, he was recognized for his efforts and received several awards, including the Gold Medal of Valor award and the Pentagon 9/11 response medal.

In addition to receiving numerous awards, Rodriguez has been involved in many projects and community outreach programs and served on many committees in Virginia.

The council vote Monday night was unanimous. Councilor Patricia West was absent from the meeting.

Heavener was one of several people who served on a special committee that interviewed candidates for the fire chief’s job. Other committee members were councilors Ken Fletcher and Ben Twitchell, police Chief Shawn O’Leary and Code Enforcement Officer Adam Bradstreet.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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