In 1924, a group of concerned Rowley citizens met to consider the issue of fire protection. Until this time, firefighting was performed ‘as needed’ by an untrained, loosely organized group of citizens using wooden ladders and buckets strategically placed around town. Large fires were fought with help from the professional fire departments in Ipswich and Newburyport.
Things were about to change.
On December 19, 1927, this group of citizens was chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the Rowley Volunteer Fire Protection Association, Incorporated. Their stated purpose was to purchase and maintain fire equipment for the protection of lives and property within the Town of Rowley.
This private agency received the blessings of the town government and proceeded to recruit, train, and equip volunteer firefighters. The Association purchased its first engine early in 1928, a Seagrave Suburbanite pumper. It was housed in MacDonald’s Garage on Central Street.
The Association opened its first station at 7 Hammond Street in 1936. The apparatus was housed in a converted barber shop and pool hall. The same building is in use today, after two additions and numerous renovations.
The volunteer system proceeded to serve the town well until the 1990’s. Changing work patterns caused a lack of volunteers during weekdays, and the Association petitioned the town for help. In 1997 the first career fire chief was hired, and the Town of Rowley Fire Department was born. Two career firefighters were hired shortly thereafter.
Effective July 1, 2009 the Rowley Board of Selectmen reorganized the RFD and eliminated the RVFPA’s role. All call firefighters now work directly for the town, and the RVFPA building and equipment are leased to the Town.
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