OREGON – The Oregon Fire District has spent the past couple months getting used to something it’s never had before: a full-time fire chief.
The Oregon Fire Protection District Board appointed Michael Knoup to the position on May 1.
Knoup has served as part-time chief of the all-volunteer department since Sept. 30, 2016, splitting his time with his paramedic duties.
With the mounting call volume and an increase in administrative demands by outside government agencies, such as the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the board decided to hire a full-time chief to meet the growing administrative demands, according to a June 28 news release from the district.
“This very positive change has been long overdue,” Board President Steve Carr said.
At the most recent trustees meeting, Knoup reported that so far this year, requests for both fire and ambulance services are up 64 percent in the district, with 500 calls to date.
At 124 square miles, the district is the second largest Ogle County.
Byron, Dixon Rural, Mount Morris and Stillman Valley Districts all have full-time chiefs.
Knoup will be paid $60,000 plus benefits.
Prior to 2014, the district did not provide EMS services, but after the closing of the Oregon Ambulance Service that year, the district began to provide the services, after the approval of a referendum in 2015. Oregon was the last fire district in the county to provide EMS services.
Knoup began his firefighting career in 1985 as a firefighter for the Pecatonica Fire Protection District and moved up through the ranks to become Deputy Chief of Operations.
He worked with German Township Fire District in Springfield, Ohio, as a firefighter and EMT from 1992 to 1996,before returning to the Pecatonica Fire District.
He began working for the Oregon Fire District in 2014 as an EMT.
Knoup said his goals will be to improve fire prevention, focus on ongoing training and education of firefighters and EMS personnel, and grow and improve teamwork with the surrounding fire districts.