OAKLAND (CBS SF/BCN) — Oakland officials announced Wednesday that the city found a new fire chief, who will take over in May.

Reginald Freeman will be the 37th fire chief and is emergency management director in Hartford, Connecticut, where he’s been serving since 2016.

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Freeman assumes his role in Oakland on May 17. He takes over for Deputy Chief Melinda Drayton, who has been serving as interim chief since April of last year.

“Recognizing the importance of this position, we undertook an exhaustive recruitment process and we’re extremely confident that Mr. Freeman is the right choice for this moment,” City Administrator Ed Reiskin said in a statement.

Reiskin added that Freeman has a great deal of professional experience, is committed to professional development, and has a track record of achieving goals as a professional.

Before serving in Hartford, Freeman worked as the fire chief for Lockheed Martin and was a civilian fire chief in Iraq from 2004 to 2008 for the U.S. Department of Defense, Oakland officials said.

Freeman has previously held roles as a firefighter/EMT, fire captain, fire service instructor, assistant fire chief and fire chief.

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“I am sincerely humbled and honored to have the confidence of Mayor Schaaf and Mr. Reiskin to serve the great City of Oakland and the men and women of the Oakland Fire Department as fire chief,” Chief Freeman said in a statement.

Reiskin thanked Drayton along with other Fire Department staff for their work during the transition period.

“From managing the City’s ongoing Covid-19 response, mitigating the ongoing annual threat of wildfires, and responding to the tragic passing of Assistant Chief Sean Laffan, the past 15 months have been full of unprecedented challenges, but OFD has proven itself to be responsive, resilient, and committed,” Reiskin said in a letter to city workers.

Freeman has a bachelor’s degree in leadership, a master’s degree in executive fire service leadership and is working on his doctoral dissertation in emergency and protective services.

He is a fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers USA Branch and serves on the board of directors for National Fire Protection Association.

Freeman is married and is a father to two daughters.

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