NORTH ATTLEBORO — When Christopher Coleman was a boy, his father would bring him to fires.
Dressed in his own uniform, Coleman would watch from a distance as his dad, Fire Chief Robert Coleman, commanded the scene.
The younger Coleman grew up watching his father in action, first as a boy and then as a firefighter himself. His uncle was also a firefighter, serving as a lieutenant in Pawtucket.
Now the family tradition is even stronger as Coleman has been named the next chief of the North Attleboro Fire Department.
He said he will probably take over in September after current Chief Michael Brousseau retires.
“This has always been my dream and this is a dream come true,” Coleman said Monday. “I always wanted to follow in his footsteps and this is going to be great.”
Coleman, 43, said there is a lot of work to do and he can’t wait to get started.
The department has 10 new firefighters who have to be trained and mentored.
“We have a lot of great, young talent,” said Coleman, the father of two Attleboro High students.
A 22-year veteran of the force, Coleman was selected for the job by selectmen over two fire officials from Rhode Island.
“Captain Coleman has the experience and proven leadership abilities on both a local and regional level necessary to lead the North Attleboro Fire Department,” Selectman Patrick Reynolds said.
Selectman Chairman Michael Lennox said all three candidates were good ones, but eventually the board decided unanimously to promote Coleman.
“It was with great pride that we were able to see someone with Captain Coleman’s skills and work ethic come through the department over many years to become the future leaders of that fine organization,” he said.
Coleman was chosen over Daniel DeStefano, a battalion chief in the North Providence department, and Russell McGillvray, a former chief in East Greenwhich, R.I.
He was under consideration for a vacant deputy position in November, but selectmen unanimously voted to give the job to then Capt. Michael Chabot.
Selectman Keith Lapointe said the board thought Chabot was the best qualified for deputy, but Coleman has different and complementary skills that made him the best candidate for chief.
Lennox said both men scored high on tests and evaluations.