The Valley Regional Fire Authority Board of Governance did not have to look far to find its next chief executive.
The board on Wednesday appointed Brent Swearingen, deputy chief of operations, to serve as fire chief and administrator of the VRFA, effective Jan. 1.
“Chief Swearingen brings 34 years of experience in the fire service, significant academic achievements and industry credentials,” said Nancy Backus, Auburn mayor and VRFA board chair. “During his tenure as deputy chief at VRFA, he has been a proven leader with demonstrated results.
“My fellow board members and I look forward to working with Brent to continue the longstanding commitment of delivering outstanding service to the people who live, work and visit our communities.”
Swearingen succeeds Eric Robertson, who announced his retirement on Oct. 4. Robertson, who has been at the helm for 12 years, said he will help make the leadership change as seamless as possible.
“I share the confidence the board has in Brent,” Robertson said. “He is man of integrity and skill, always striving to do the right thing. For me, having the ability to leave knowing the organization I care so much about is in the hands of someone who is so talented and cares equally is heartening.”
Robertson selected Swearingen from a nationwide field of candidates to lead fire and emergency medical services operations at the VRFA in 2012. Swearingen began his career in 1984 as a firefighter at the Reno, Nev., Fire Department and served in a variety of supervisory and management positions before his appointment as operations and administration chief, a post he has filled for eight years.
Swearingen has been a longtime mentor to developing fire officers and has worked extensively as an assessor and subject matter expert for executive-level testing on the West Coast.
While at Reno, he served a stint as the special assistant to the city manager, gaining a global perspective on municipal issues.
Swearingen served four years in the Army, working as a Russian language intercept operator with a top secret security clearance prior to his honorable discharge.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix, a master’s degree in homeland security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, Calif.) and a master’s certificate in alternative dispute resolution from the University of Denver.
Swearingen is active in the community, serving as a board member for the Auburn Kiwanis and Nexus Youth & Family Services. A Hookstown, Penn., native, Swearingen and his wife, Lori, have four adult children and live in Ravensdale.