Wareham Fire Chief announces retirement

Robert McDuffy steps down in September
By Matthew Bernat | Jul 21, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat After 36 years on the department, Wareham Fire Chief Robert McDuffy's will retire on Sept. 8.

The extensive training required of today’s firefighters weren’t there when outgoing Wareham Fire Chief Robert McDuffy joined the department at 16.

“I walked into the station and they said: ‘Here’s a set of gear. You’re an instant firefighter,’” McDuffy, 53, recalled. “I had to figure out how to respond to calls because I didn’t have a driver’s license.”

After 36 years with the department, McDuffy announced earlier this month he will retire on Sept. 8. He spent the last 18 years as chief.

McDuffy said he wanted to be a firefighter since he was a child, drawn to the service aspect of the career – everything from battling blazes to helping a kid put air in a bike tire.

“Our whole motivation is to help people,” said McDuffy. “It’s important the fire service doesn’t forget the citizens and what we can do for them in between emergency calls.”

After joining, he worked his way up the ranks before becoming chief in 1999.

McDuffy said his appointment came at a time when there was instability in the department. Also, some longer serving firefighters felt slighted when the then 35-year-old McDuffy accepted the offer.

“I had a lot of opposition,” he said. “One of my missions was to do more with less for the benefit of the taxpayer.”

He reduced an excessive number of firefighters on staff and eventually drafted a 10-year capital plan for vehicles and equipment.

The plan meticulously identifies each vehicle the department uses, forecasting when replacements are needed and at what cost.

“We wanted to show these weren’t being purchased on a whim,” said McDuffy. “They were methodical and thought out.”

Looking back on his years, McDuffy said the department forged excellent relationships with the town’s other public safety agencies and their department heads, including Wareham EMS Director Dave Evans, Police Chief Kevin Walsh and Onset Fire Chief Ray Goodwin.

A Wareham native, McDuffy and his wife, Jana, have four children together: Robert, 30; Rose, 27; Michaela, 19; and Julia, 11.

The decision to retire was a difficult one, said McDuffy. But with the department on solid ground he wanted to leave while, “I’m at the top of my game.”

Looking ahead, McDuffy said he might enter politics. He didn’t offer details, just saying his municipal experience would be an asset.

“I like to think I have something to offer,” said McDuffy. “I’ve got a lot of fire left in my tank.”

Comments (14)
Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Jul 21, 2017 11:24

Good Luck Chief , Well Deserved Retirement, Enjoy your health......  On another note now would be a wonderful time to combine both departments . One Department WAREHAM FIRE......

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 21, 2017 12:52

Good call Sheriff! It is a perfect time

Posted by: Beachbum0715 | Jul 21, 2017 14:19

I love chief McDuffy and all but I wish this article would mention to the tax payers that the only reason he is retiring along with his secretary is because they were doing the McDuffy paving company books on the fire departments dime...correction our tax payers dime.

Posted by: Uns3529 | Jul 21, 2017 18:07

I cannot say enough about chief Mcduffy!  He has been wonderful to have as a fire chief! He has done an exceptional job and has been wonderful to my family! So sad to see him retire.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jul 21, 2017 21:42

"...they were doing the McDuffy paving company books on the fire departments dime..."


Isn't this why paid fire departments exist?  What else are they going to do?  You can only wash and detail your car so many times.


My uncle (now retired for a couple decades) ran a dump truck business while a paid fireman.  My brother, on the other hand, was a volunteer firefighter who ran a metal fabrication business as his real income source.  My brother is a hero.

Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Jul 21, 2017 23:04

I worked with a dude who ran his environmental company at the firehouse.. Who cares as long as all the work at the firehouse is taken care of .Me I preferred to play Xbox .I play a mean game of NHL and Madden .Jealousy is a bad thing. But then again Society it takes a certain person to do the job .

Posted by: WeweANTICS | Jul 22, 2017 13:33

Good luck Chief but definitely time to reform the districts.  Since Onset will be the only fire chief maybe they should have him take over the both districts.  While a pay increase might be needed it will be one less person having to pay their skyrocket insurance and retirement costs for employees.  Districts are out of date and should go away but this could be a good push in the right direction.

Posted by: bob | Jul 22, 2017 16:48

Well if he was double dipping,he should go,and it should be with a deduction in his pension,but this is the Wareham Fire District..He will probably get a bonus.....

Posted by: WWreader | Jul 23, 2017 10:36

Well, in any other place of work you don't get to do other business that you are not being paid for. I disagree Society that part of a fireman's job is they get to run another business on the tax payers dime. Show me where it says that in the contract. It's not there. It's not right. If there is not enough work for the fire department secretary to do so that she can do the books for the chief's private business, maybe those hours need to be cut for the next secretary so the tax payers can save some money. There is more to this story than meets the eye.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jul 23, 2017 22:19

Apparently I was unclear, WWReader.  I was being sarcastic when I asked if that was why paid fire departments exist.  I have a lot of respect for my brother, the volunteer fireman.


I'm actually surprised that so many of you natives are offended by such corruption.  It has been my impression up to now that graft, corruption, double-dipping at the public trough, and nepotism are accepted business-as-usual in the Bay State.

Posted by: 181mph | Jul 24, 2017 15:43

SFSON,,, that's pretty much become the American way, not just the bay state, it's every state, actually it's the norm for all the nimrods we elect and send to DC, none of them boys in DC have pockets in their suits, they are unneeded, as they only put their hands in other peoples pockets

Posted by: Garry B. | Jul 24, 2017 19:53

Congratulations Chief on your retirement.  I have had a professional relationship with Chief McDuffy between departments and we have butted heads on a few occasions however we've always gotten along and it's always been professional.  I have to say to the above commenter that making an accusation about the Chief and the secretary with zero proof is out of place, just my opinion.

Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Jul 24, 2017 21:59

You are correct Gary , totally uncalled for . I chalk it up to jealous people. The Chief earned his pension and most of these people are jealous .  I also started working for a municipality at the age of 16 which allowed me to leave at a young age. Lots of jealous people

Posted by: Steve Holmes | Jul 25, 2017 09:49

Wishing you well Chief. It was a pleasure serving with you for my 6 years on the Board. You were always a professional. After many years of service it's time to fully enjoy your family. Thank you for your service and dedication to the people of Wareham.

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