Alameda County Fire Chief David Rocha will retire at the end of this year, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors announced last week. But not entirely.
Rocha, however, will stay with department and serve as interim fire chief, Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler said.
Rocha’s retirement was discussed in closed session during a special Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 23.
Rocha was named Alameda County fire chief in 2014. Before being appointed as interim to replace former fire chief Demetrious Shaffer in January 2014, Rocha was the department’s deputy fire chief since 2006.
Prior to that, Rocha worked for the San Leandro Fire Department before it was folded into the newly formed Alameda County Fire Department in the mid-1990s.
An affable and capable leader, Rocha is respected by many public officials in cities that contract their fire prevention services to the county.
Last May, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Rocha to a four-year term on the State Board of Fire Services.
But an incident last spring involving the dissemination of an inappropriate, if not racist, Chinese Lunar New Year greeting card by one Alameda County fire station brought negative attention to the department.
It also spotlighted the Alameda County Fire Department’s current and historical lack of non-white firefighters within its ranks. Not too mention, its low number of female recruits.