After 33 years in fire service in the East Bay, Alameda County Fire Department Fire Chief David Rocha is retiring effective Aug. 15, ACFD officials announced on Tuesday.
Rocha's retirement date was confirmed after the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday selected Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Chief Willie McDonald as ACFD's next fire chief, with an Aug. 17 start date. Rocha initially informed the board in October of his intent to retire but agreed to stay on until a successor was named.
"When I informed the Board of my intent to retire, I imagined an entirely different transition prior to a pandemic and social justice crises. So much has changed for each of us. I remain optimistic that we will get through these difficult times," Rocha told the Weekly. "I have genuinely relished the opportunity to serve my community and was honored to be the Fire Chief of such a great organization."
"I appreciate the support that we've received from our Board and the community. I'm excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for me and my family," he added.
According to ACFD officials, Rocha began his career in April 1987 as a firefighter in San Leandro -- having previously worked for a private ambulance company -- and transitioned into the ACFD when San Leandro officially enlisted the department's services and signed on as a contracted city.
Rocha rose through the ranks of ACFD and was promoted to fire chief in 2014.
While serving as the department's fire chief, Rocha played a key role in the ACFD's consolidation efforts such as the implementation of the Alameda County Regional Emergency Communications Center, which dispatches to not only local fire services, but also to ambulances and mutual aid resources -- an effort that fire officials say went a great way toward connecting services in the region and reaches 16 counties.
As a leader, ACFD officials say Rocha also prioritized exploring innovative service models, maintaining existing department infrastructure and facilities, enhancing the community's emergency preparedness, increasing operational readiness and ensuring a high degree of cultural competency.
Active on the state as well as local level, Rocha served as the Cal OES Region II fire and rescue coordinator, served on the California Fire Service Task Force on Climate Impact, was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the State Board of Fire Services and was named as California Fire Chief of the Year in 2019.
He has also served as the chair of California Metropolitan Fire Chiefs (Metro Chiefs) and as an Executive Board member for the California Fire Chiefs Association.
"He is committed to the department members, fostering partnerships and collaborating with the community. He is an incredibly competent and dynamic leader who is esteemed by all his peers," fire officials added.
ACFD is tasked with providing fire and emergency services to unincorporated Alameda County communities, including parts of the Tri-Valley, as well as the cities of Dublin, San Leandro, Newark, Union City and Emeryville and the Lawrence National Laboratories in Berkeley and Livermore.