A fire chief said goodbye to 30 years in his old community, deciding Oregon is the home for him.
Mike Knoup, chief of the Oregon Fire Protection District, officially moved into town Nov. 17, leaving Pecatonica after 32 years.
Knoup had been serving as Pecatonica’s deputy fire chief when he took over for Al Green as Oregon’s chief on Sept. 30, 2016. Over the course of the past year, Knoup commuted between both stations.
“When they made me chief last year, I wasn’t sure if it was a permanent decision, or more of an interim deal,” said Knoup. “I took it as a trial basis, but by the middle of summer, I decided Oregon would be the best place to live, and I’d do a better job as chief living in the community.”
Knoup is no stranger to the area, having worked with the OFPD through ATS Medical Services, Loves Park, for around three years prior to becoming chief.
In the coming months, Knoup’s schedule in Pecatonica will lighten gradually, until he transitions solely to OFPD.
Despite having been with the Pecatonica department since 1985, Knoup said he’s not emotionally broken up about making the change.
“I like new challenges, you know? Oregon presents new challenges with higher call volume, a larger community, and just a lot of good things on the horizon,” said Knoup. “Besides, I’m only 25 miles from Pecatonica, and still have family there, so I’ll always have strong ties.”
He said the smooth transitions are due to the fact that his life has always revolved around fire and emergency medical services, and so it has been familiar no matter where he goes.
With that said, he said dedication to Oregon has allowed for improvements.
“I’ve enjoyed being able to bring more EMS integration into the fire department, and improved training as well,” said Knoup. “We’ve brought on a training officer - one of my full-time paramedics - and we’re always bringing in new and up-to-date training.”
As an example of that training, the fire district is training on a state-of-the-art driving simulator for the next two weeks, courtesy of the Cherry Valley Fire Department.
“This is a $250,000 piece of equipment that they are letting us borrow, at no charge, to improve our training,” said Knoup.
Good relationships with the surrounding communities’ stations have been important to Knoup since day one, he says.
“That’s so much of this job: to be able to build connections and provide a team approach,” said Knoup.
He said the community has also been supportive of his move into town.
“It’s always a good thing, too, to hear you’re accepted,” he said. “I’m just really happy to be here.”