The Oregon Fire Protection District Board made history recently when they appointed the district’s first full-time fire chief.
Current fire chief Michael Knoup was made full-time on May 1.
Knoup was named chief of the all-volunteer department on Sept. 30, 2016.
He will be paid an annual salary of $60,000 plus benefits.
According to a June 28 press release from the fire district, the change to a full-time chief had been considered for several months because of growing demands of the State Fire Marshall’s office, call volume, and to most effectively and efficiently run the department.
“This very positive change has been long overdue and will be a tremendous benefit in the district’s ability to provide excellent service to the citizens of the Oregon Fire Protection District,” said board president Steve Carr.
Knoup said he is honored to be appointed to this position.
With the mounting call volume and increase in administrative demands by outside government agencies, the board decided to hire a full-time chief to meet the extensive administrative demands, the press release 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 in 2018.
The district is the second largest Ogle County at 124 square miles.
The Byron, Dixon Rural, Mt. Morris and Stillman Valley Districts all employ full-time chiefs.
Prior to 2014, the district did not provide EMS services. With the closing of the Oregon Ambulance Service in 2014, the district would have been left without EMS services.
The approval of the referendum in 2015 corrected that issue. Oregon was the last fire district in the county to provide EMS services.
“The addition of EMS services in 2014 was a tremendous improvement in the district’s ability to meet the needs of our tax payers and visitors,” the press release said.
Knoup began working in the fire service in 1985 as a firefighter for the Pecatonica Fire Protection District and moved up through the ranks there 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, and then returned to service in the Pecatonica Fire District.
He began working for the Oregon Fire District in 2014 as an EMT working a 24/48 shift.
He attained his paramedic license in 2014 as the district began staffing the ambulance service with two full-time paramedics.
After he was appointed Oregon Fire Chief, he continued working as a paramedic on a 24/48 hour shift, fulfilling many of his chief duties while on his shift every third day, as well as putting in additional time as needed.
He purchased a home and moved to Oregon in November of 2017.
Knoup’s goals will be to improve fire prevention, and ongoing training and education of our firefighters and EMS personnel.
He also desires to continue to grow and improve teamwork with the surrounding districts and within the community.
Knoup said the fire service has changed dramatically over the past 25 years and one of his top priorities will be to keep the Oregon Fire Protection District compliant with state and federal regulations and to continue making the district “a model fire and EMS agency for others to follow,” the press release said.
Knoup expressed his appreciation to the citizens of the Oregon Fire Protection District for their continuing support.