Bill Maiorano Steps Down as Head of REMA
Bill Maiorano recently retired as Director of the town’s Emergency Management Agency (REMA) after serving for over 30 years. Maiorano, 66, attended the University of Rhode Island, where he studied Resource Development.
REMA consists of representatives from all local public safety groups including fire, police, rescue, ambulance, board of health, town nurse, animal control, schools, senior center, highway department, and town administration.
Maiorano grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island and joined the Rehoboth Fire Rescue in 1983. He served as Captain at one of the stations before becoming the head of REMA in 1986. In those days, the department was under the auspices of civil defense due to the Cold War still raging between the United States and Russia. “Back then, we had a huge volunteer squad,” Maiorano remembered. “Between the Rescue Squad and us we had a staff of 25 volunteers all the time. The challenges were keeping people actively involved in emergency management.”
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had the effect of refocusing emergency response and preparedness. Maiorano conducted trainings for residents so they would be able to handle large-scale incidents. Maiorano noted that REMA always operated with a small budget but through the years he was able to obtain grants and supplies.
Hurricanes have caused a lot of problems through the years. Maiorano remembers when Rehoboth lost electricity for a week due to the intensity of the wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “Our big challenge in this town when we have a huge storm is that we’re completely on a well system,” Maiorano said. “Because of the large (number) of trees, we really lose power. Since we don’t have our own substation, our power comes from other towns so we’re kind of the last ones on the line to get fixed.”
“I contacted Massachusetts Emergency Management (MEMA) to bring in water so the military would bring down pallets of water for us and we would disburse them,” Maiorano continued. “We had the three fire stations set up as our distribution points.”
Rehoboth suffered from severe flooding in 2010. REMA had their hands full trying to keep residents safe. Maiorano found himself in a precarious situation during the response. “We were out sandbagging non-stop,” Maiorano noted. “We were using our own personal vehicles. One time I was down by Shad Factory (in my truck) and the water was up to my wheel wells.”
REMA also operated the emergency shelter. The volunteers would sleep on the floor overnight. “We basically gave the cots to all the people in town,” Maiorano explained. “I had a great group of guys. The Rescue Chief Dave Drown was amazing. He was kind of my mentor and inspiration.”
Maiorano won the respect of town officials, who praised him for his hard work.
Selectman Michael Costello said Maiorano’s performance as REMA Director had been “outstanding.” “He’s been a great asset to that department,” Costello noted. “He’s going to be sadly missed.”
Selectman Jim Muri said Maiorano had “worked tirelessly to find sources of food both for the seniors and also for the food pantry.” “Bill has just been a huge asset to this town and I don’t think we’ll be able to fill his shoes,” Muri added.
Maiorano acknowledged the dedication of the members of REMA as well as the Fire Department and Rescue Squad. He credits some of his success to their abilities and hard work.
“It’s a team effort,” Maiorano added. “I had a great team.”