READING, Pa. -

The man who has been serving as the interim chief of the Reading Fire Department has been tapped to take the job permanently.

Kevin Kulp has held the position since the retirement of Chief Bill Rehr at the end of 2010.

"This appointment follows an exhaustive, national search, which produced several highly qualified candidates," said Mayor Tom McMahon.

City officials said the search process included a panel of firefighting professionals from outside the area with distinguished careers in public safety.

The McMahon administration will formally recommend Kulp's appointment to City Council on Monday.

Kulp, a native of Birdsboro, joined the Reading Fire Department as a firefighter in 1977. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1994 and to platoon chief in 1996. In 2006, he was promoted to first deputy chief.

He has served as a senior instructor at the Montgomery County Fire Academy and as adjunct professor at the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy.

Other finalists for the job included applicants from New Jersey and Kentucky.