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Rockland Selectmen Appoint Interim Fire Chief
Updated On: Sep 254, 2009

Retired Needham Fire Chief answers the bell for Rockland

By Mikaela Slaney

Thu Jul 16, 2009, 12:38 PM EDT

Rockland - For now, Rockland has a fire chief.

After sifting through several applications to fill the interim position, Rockland selectmen invited back three qualified candidates who have served as fire chiefs in other towns.

Finally, Robert A. DiPoli, former chief in Needham, was selected to serve as chief for the next nine months and assist in leading the department, and finding a permanent chief. He begins his stint Aug. 3.

“I would love the challenge to lead your department,” DiPoli told selectmen Monday night.

DiPoli, a Medfield resident, was in firefighting for 35 years. He was promoted in his fourth year on the job, and rose through the ranks until he became chief, a position he held for 15 years.

“That’s very impressive,” Selectman Lawrence Chaffee noted of DiPoli’s quick rise through the ranks.

DiPoli retired from his position as Needham Fire Chief four years ago.

While serving as the Needham chief, DiPoli said he helped secure grants for the town. He also worked with a significantly higher budget at $5.9 million, due to the affluent nature of the town, DiPoli added.

After his 15 years of serving as chief, DiPoli said he left the town on good terms, and Needham would be willing to hire him back if he chose to accept the position. However, DiPoli said he is only willing to take the position in Rockland because it is not permanent.

The Rockland board listened to DiPoli and two former chiefs, Dennis Dowd of Winchendon, Mass., and Robert Sullivan from Milton, and motioned to accept DiPoli’s application with little discussion.

DiPoli received a fire science degree at Mass Bay Community College. He is a graduate of the Chief Fire Officer program at the UMass Donahue Institute.

He is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program.

Acting fire chief William Ferguson originally expressed interest in becoming the full time chief in Rockland, however he later decided he wanted to be relieved from the position by Aug. 3.

Ferguson took over for Chief Michael Sammon, who was the chief from 2003 until he retired in November.

Ferguson was appointed to the interim chief position in January, and had submitted his application to keep the role on a full-time basis.

Although Ferguson refused to comment on the reasoning at that time, Town Administrator Alan Chiocca said there may have been differences of opinion about the fire chief’s role.

Rockland selectmen appoint interim fire chief

Name retired former Needham chief

GateHouse News Service
Posted Jul 15, 2009 @ 02:17 AM


Rockland selectmen have appointed the former chief of the Needham Fire Department to serve as Rockland’s interim fire chief beginning in October.

Robert A. DiPoli of Medfield was chief of the Needham department from 1989 until his retirement in 2004.

He is director of governmental affairs for the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts. In 2004, he was elected president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

He is expected to work in Rockland for six to nine months and be available for emergency response at all times. Pension regulations allow him to work 960 hours per year.

The town’s current interim fire chief is scheduled to retire at the end of this summer.

When the selectmen began discussing the creation of a “public safety director” position to be filled by the police chief, the union opposed it and the idea was dropped.

A big problem for the fire department is overtime, the cost of which has reached $9,700 per week at times this year.

Selectmen have yet to negotiate the terms of DiPoli’s contract.

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