Capt. Matt Rowley tapped as Wareham's new fire chief

Jun 22, 2018

A lifelong resident who joined the department in 1985 was chosen as Wareham’s new fire chief on Thursday.

The district, which provides fire and water service, is governed independently from the town. The Onset Fire District, a separate entity, provides those same services for Onset residents.

Capt. Matt Rowley was sworn in as interim chief one year after former chief Robert McDuffy retired. Rowley will serve as interim chief until his contract is finalized.

Members of the Wareham Fire District Prudential Committee, who oversee department operations, unanimously approved Rowley a week after publicly interviewing four candidates.

Prudential Committee Chair Ron Enos acknowledged the search had been “a long, arduous process.”

“In the end, I believe the thoroughness of the process has given us the best candidate for fire chief,” said Enos.

Rowley, 49, had the overwhelming support of firefighters. Two weeks ago, department members submitted a petition supporting him as chief, signed by enough firefighters to fill two pages.

During his interview, Rowley said key values to instill in the department were honesty, integrity and camaraderie.

“If firefighters are looking at their leader and he’s not holding those values, it won’t hold water,” said Rowley. “To me, it’s lead by example and show the public honesty and integrity in everything we do.”

Prudential Committee members were scheduled to pick a new chief three weeks ago. However, they learned that member George Barrett would not be allowed to vote due to a conflict of interest. Barrett’s son is a member in the department.

In light of that, members decided to hold public interviews with the four candidates, all current firefighters. Other candidates included: Assistant Chief Pat Haskell, Capt. Mickey Bird and Assistant Chief John Kelley.

Haskell had served as interim chief since January. Enos thanked him for his service.

Currently, the chief’s salary is listed at $136,250. Enos didn’t know when Rowley would be installed as the permanent chief, but noted: “We will move quickly and expeditiously to finalize the employment contract.”