Many young men often don’t want to follow in their same career path of their fathers, but it was exactly the opposite for Everett Firefighter Rocco Andreotti, who like his father before him, has served more than 30 years on the Everett Fire Department (EFD) and continues to love his job every shift.
Andreotti, 61, grew up in Everett and still lives in the city. He has a wife, Cynthia, and two daughters – Cara, who attends Gordon College and is on the basketball team there; and Ashley, an adult who now lives in San Diego.
His parents, Dolores and Joseph, still live in Everett on Lexington Street and it is through his father’s example that he became a firefighter.
“My dad was a firefighter for 37 years in Everett and in March I’ll be approaching my 35th anniversary with EFD,” he said. “I truly enjoy the job and helping people…My dad always told me it was a wonderful profession. I didn’t go to college and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I was proud of my dad and liked the job. I’m safety orientated and like helping people. That’s why I’m still here three years after I could retire, and I’ll probably do two or three more years like my dad did.”
Andreotti is currently the engineer of Ladder 1 and has been assigned to Ladder 1 his whole career, operating out of Central Fire Station. As an engineer the last 24 years, he is responsible for driving the apparatus, deploying the aerial ladder, using the Jaws of Life at car accidents, and cutting the hole in a roof to vent a fire.
Fire Union President Craig Hardy said Andreotti has an excellent reputation among the other Jakes on the EFD.
“He is a good guy, who is an old school Jake that is one of our best truck drivers,” said Hardy. “He has been an amazing role model to all of us on the job and always takes time to teach guys all the knowledge he has gained over his career.”
That career has been full of responding to fires, medical calls and other types of emergencies. In 2004, he and Retired Firefighter Joe Quinn got the state Firefighter of the Year award for helping to rescue a suicidal woman that was about to jump off the top of the Sacro Plaza Tower in Everett Square. That event happened in 2003. He said the woman was distraught and was going to take her life, but her and Quinn were able to talk her out of it. At one point, Quinn went in and grabbed her off the ledge and Andreotti assisted in the save.
“We were able to talk to her and make a grab to get her down,” he said. “We still see her around and she’s doing much better than she was at that time.”
Andreotti also participated in the huge conflagration in Cambridge back a few years ago – a 10-alarm fire that took down an entire neighborhood there.
“It was literally like a war zone,” he said.
Since COVID-19 hit, he said it has been much more difficult to be a firefighter – particularly because he is older and is intent on protecting his family from getting the virus from him. Going on medical aid calls all the time, firefighters run a huge risk of getting infected, plus the fact they live in the station during shifts. He said the other firefighters and Chief Tony Carli have been tremendous in handling the situation, but it still remains a challenge.
“If we have an exposure, we immediately get tested,” he said. “Still, I’m worried, being 61, and if I do come in contact with it, my daughter is home for college and my wife is home for work and I live in a two-family with my sister. I’m particularly worried about infecting them if someone were to infect me at work.”
With that in mind, Andreotti recently made local history by being the initial first responder to get the COVID-19 vaccine last week at the City’s vaccine clinic. He said he didn’t plan on being first, but he had been waiting for the vaccine to come out. When the email hit, he immediately responded and got the first appointment. However, even with his worries, Andreotti said he educated himself first and had some skepticism before talking with friends in the medical field.
“I had told my wife that when they offer it, I’m going to get it,” he said. “It’s a big question mark for a lot of people. They say the vaccine is safe. I have many friends that are in the medical field and they are saying to get it. That withstanding, it’s not going to change the level of protection I have at work. I’m still going to be as protected as I was before. It makes you feel a little better and confident. I’ve had no side effects and it’s been a week…If I were 27, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten it.”
In all, Andreotti said he continues to report to Central Fire for every shift with a positive attitude, and a love for the City he works in and for.
“Everett is a great city,” he said. “We have a strong leadership with the mayor and chief and our union leaders…We’re lucky in this city to have really talented members on our Fire Department.”
He stressed that Everett Fire is one giant team, and members are focused so much on working together in every situation.