CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — After 11 years at the helm, Corpus Christi Fire Chief Robert Rocha is retiring.
Chief Rocha told KRIS 6 News that City Manager Peter Zanoni will announce Rocha's retirement at Tuesday's city council meeting.
Rocha is from Kansas City and became Chief of the Corpus Christi Fire Department in December 2011. After 40 years in fire service, Chief Rocha said it’s time for some new leadership at the Corpus Christi Fire Department.
In his time as chief, he said the city itself, has been the highlight of his time.
“To me it’s the best of the United States and the best of Mexico in one location," said Rocha. "And really, the friendliness, the atmosphere the weather, the food. Everything is beautiful here and I enjoy the city."
City Councilman Roland Barrera remembers all the crisis situations Rocha has endured as chief, from Hurricane Harvey to the pandemic. Barrera said Rocha always delivered.
“The mayor’s initiative with regard to save our seniors, vaccinating people inside their homes. The idea was brought about by her and then they executed it and they executed it well, to make sure those individuals were vaccinated,” said Barrera.
The department has experienced growth under Rocha’s watch, bringing in more firefighter, the acquisition of the AMBUS and plans to build new fire stations.
“We’re not at a shortage of firefighters," Barrera said. "He’s been able to get us to that point through those academy’s.”
The department is currently authorized to have 446 firefighters with many more in cadet school at Del Mar College.
“We’re getting ready to hire another 37 fire cadets beginning in January," said Rocha. "So, I’m happy to say I think the department in a better staffing position than it’s ever been before.”
But what Makes his time memorable are the relationships built.
“I have some amazing friends," he said. "My brother from another mother, the Police Chief Mike Markle is another amazing leader that he and I feed off one another."
Rocha added he has a respect for the work he's done with the Corpus Christi Firefighters Association and president Johnny Stobbs.
"I appreciated his leadership and his friendship. but working together we've done great things," said Rocha. "I want to make sure that I note that the president of the firefighter's association has been a good partner."
Rocha has no specific plans for retirement, but he’ll remain in Corpus Christi.
His last day on the job will be Jan. 20, 2023.
The process of finding a replacement will also be discussed at Tuesday's city council meeting.