The Town of Rockland, Massachusetts is a 10.5 square mile, suburban community located 20 miles southeast of Boston incorporated from Abington in 1874. Rockland’s population of over 18,000 residents reflects the populace of a changing America and includes a variety of cultures and economic backgrounds. From the mid 19th century until the mid 20th century, Rockland was a strong industrial community, once well known for its shoemaking. Today Rockland is primarily a bedroom community with some manufacturing industry. Many of the large, old shoe mill buildings are either vacant or repurposed into other occupancies.
The Rockland Fire Department (RFD) currently consists of 25 full time career Firefighters operating in four shifts of six. The Department provides Fire Suppression, Emergency Medical Ambulance Services, including both Basic and Paramedic level Advanced Life Support, Fire Prevention and Public Education. As well as providing Hazardous Materials Response and Technical/Water Rescue. In 2010, the RFD responded to over 5,200 incidents. Anecdotally, year after year the RFD is one of the busiest single station fire departments in Southeastern Massachusetts. Due to the size of the department, any working fire incident requires the extensive use of mutual aid.
When a fire call comes into the station a maximum of five firefighters respond to the initial alarm. They respond with one engine and one ladder and a total of four or five firefighters. The engine has the shift officer, a driver, and a step man. The ladder truck is only staffed with a driver. The shift officer is part of the initial fire attack and is unable to assume command. Typically all the first due personnel, with the exception of the lead pump operator, enter the fire building. This situation leaves no one in command outside, and no one to monitor the accountability of firefighters. On anything more than a master box alarm a recall box is struck for off duty personnel and call firefighters.
The Rockland Firefighters were organized in 1966 and became members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and were designated Local 1602. Over the years our manning levels have fluctuated from 20 career firefighters in the 1960’s to 32 career firefighters in the late 1980’s. In 2000 when we began the paramedic (ALS) ambulance service we had staffing of 7 men per shift. In 2006, due to budgetary shortfalls and a budget reduction of over $400,000 the fire department was forced to lay off 4 firefighter/paramedics and decreased our per shift staffing to 6 men per shift. The fire department further reduced our minimum per shift manning to 5 firefighters per shift. We currently maintain a minimum of 5 firefighters per shift as requests for our services are continuing to increase.