The Searsport Select Board appointed a new fire chief on Tuesday. Antonio Rivera is set to replace former fire chief Andrew Webster, who resigned in July after he was charged in connection with embezzlement. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

It’s been six months since Searsport’s former fire chief resigned after he was charged in connection with an alleged embezzlement. Now, the fire department finally has a new chief — almost.

On Tuesday night, the Select Board unanimously voted to appoint Antonio Rivera of Swanville as Searsport’s fire chief. It won’t be official though until he accepts the post.

Rivera was previously a firefighter in the United States Air Force and currently serves as a full-time firefighter for the Oakland Fire Rescue department, according to Town Manager James Gillway.

Gillway said the appointment is a step in the right direction following the loss of Searsport’s fire chief of 10 years.

Former chief Andrew Webster was charged with receiving stolen property in June after his domestic partner allegedly embezzled over $11,000 from a charity connected to the Searsport Fire Department. Webster resigned in July and pleaded not guilty to charges in November, according to the Republican Journal. Since then, former assistant fire chief Herb Kronholm has come out of retirement to fill in as interim chief. But Gillway said Kronholm’s appointment was only a temporary fix.

“It was time to find a permanent solution,” Gillway said.

Gillway said the board chose Rivera because of his experience, including time in the Air Force handling jet fuel in industrial settings.

“There are industrial footprints in Searsport that need to be protected,” Gillway said.

Rivera will be paid an $8,500 a year stipend to work part time. The board is not requiring Rivera to step down from his full-time position in Oakland, Gillway said.

The board has a list of what they’d like to see Rivera accomplish in the next six months as fire chief. Rivera will be expected to bring the fire department in compliance with OSHA standards, work on a training schedule, and catch up with the state’s fire reporting system, all of which have fallen behind, Gillway said.

The Select Board is now waiting for Rivera to accept the offer, which Gillway anticipates is likely.

“I think he will move our department forward,” he said.