By Kevin Limiti • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA — The City of Oneonta’s new fire chief appropriately comes from a long line of firemen.
A Schenevus native and fourth-generation firefighter, Brian Knapp started his position as the Oneonta fire chief officially Sunday, Aug. 1. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a firefighter,” Knapp said Monday, Aug. 2.
Knapp’s great-grandfather was a firefighter in West Laurens, and both his grandfather and his father were firefighters in Schenevus.
“It was part of the family, the fire service,” Knapp said. “It’s just always something I wanted to do.”
Knapp was a volunteer firefighter in Schenevus before starting at the Oneonta Fire Department as an on-call firefighter in 2004. He became a part-time firefighter within six months and was promoted to full time in 2006.
“Everyone typically gets into this job to help people,” Knapp said. The rescued people are “probably (in) their worst hours of the worst days in their lives and we’re there to help them with their problem.”
However, Knapp said he and his fellow firefighters use humor in order to deal with some of the stress involved.
“Joking around helps us through those rough moments,” Knapp said. “A lot of times we refer to joking around to get through.”
Knapp said “training and education are top of the list” of things he would like to accomplish during his time, explaining that retirements have taken a lot of institutional knowledge from the department.
“We’re in a unique position where through retirement we’re going to be a young department,” Knapp said. “The only way we’re going to bridge that gap is to provide a lot more training and education.”
He also said he wanted to see the department keep going in the right direction.
“I certainly have goals for the department. That we’re going to be a top notch department, the best in the area, the one the community can rely on,” Knapp said.
Although he said he feels “pretty young for this prestigious position,” Knapp said he feels he is where is because of how his parents raised him. “I am who I am because of my parents,” Knapp said.
His accomplishments are because of, “how they went about raising me, teaching me to do the right thing, being responsible, instilling values in me.”