Fire Depart­ment: Salerno last of long fam­ily line who worked for city

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Charles Pritchard cpritchard@onei­dadis­

ONEIDA, N.Y. » Af­ter 28 years serv­ing with the Oneida City Fire Depart­ment, Chief Kevin Salerno is re­tir­ing.

“I just knew it was time and I feel like I’ve got a lot ac­com­plished,” he said.

Salerno joined the depart­ment in 1990 as an ex­cited rookie who couldn’t wait for his next work duty day. He climbed the ranks through the years, at­tain­ing lieu­tenant in 1999, then deputy fire chief in 2011. He was ap­pointed chief on Oct. 8, 2013, af­ter for­mer chief Gregg My­ers re­tired fol­low­ing 29 months in the posi-

tion and 39 years with the depart­ment.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to climb as high as I can here. I feel that’s most of our ob­jec­tives here, to go through the ranks,” Salerno said.

Com­ing from a long line of fire­fight­ers, Salerno said his brother Jeff and un­cle Joe have been depart­ment mem­bers as well as his fa­ther Louis, who re­tired in 1986 as a deputy fire chief.

“There’s been a Salerno here since 1959,” he said. “I’ll be the last one.”

Be­ing fire chief has been a bal­anc­ing act to keep the depart­ment’s equip­ment up-to-date while not over­bur­den­ing the tax payer, Salerno said.

“I’ve been very for­tu­nate to have a mayor and a coun­cil that works with me and un­der­stands the needs to pro­vide fire pro­tec­tion to the city,” Salerno said. “Public safety is the largest ex- pense in the city, whether it’s the po­lice depart­ment or fire depart­ment and I think we run a very lean depart­ment right now.”

Salerno’s suc­ces­sor will come from in­side the depart­ment and fi­nal say rests with Public Safety Com­mis­sioner Mike West and Mayor LeoMatzke. Salerno said he’ll sub­mit the top three can­di­dates from his ranks af­ter their civil ser­vice test re­sults come back. Eight fire­fight­er­swere el­i­gi­ble to take the test this year, Salerno said. Those re­sults should be back some­time in March or April.

Once the marks come back, Salerno said that the plan is to of­fi­cially put in his let­ter of in­tent to the city and make tran­si­tion plans.

“I have to give 30 days min­i­mum, but I’ll be giv­ing more. There’s a lot of things to learn and I’d like to help the new fire chief as much as I can,” Salerno said. “To make it a smooth tran­si­tion just makes it eas­ier on the next fire chief.”

When asked what hob­bies or projects he’ll be work­ing on dur­ing his re­tire­ment, Salerno said he’d like to put some more work into an an­tique fire truck he and a few other depart­ment mem­bers pooled to­gether and bought.

The Amer­i­can LaFrance fire truck was one of the first mo­tor­ized pieces of equip­ment the depart­ment bought. Be­fore then, the depart­ment had chem­i­cal carts.

“We’ve yet to get this run­ning, so that’s prob­a­bly one of the first things I’m go­ing to start tin­ker­ing with,” Salerno said. “We got a quote of $175,000 to re­fur­bish this thing, though so it’s not go­ing to be cheap.”

Salerno said that right now the truck is do­ing no good sit­ting in his garage and is ea­ger to do some­thing with it. He won’t be con­tent to just sit around at home and will find some way to keep him­self busy.

When asked if he’ll visit the fire depart­ment af­ter re­tire­ment, Salerno said he’d rather give the new chief room to do what they have to do, but will def­i­nitely stop in once in a while for cof­fee.


Oneida Fire Chief Kevin Salerno on Tues­day, Feb. 13, 2018.


The 1917Amer­i­can LeFrance fire truck pur­chased by Kevin Salerno and fire depart­ment mem­bers.


Fire­fight­ers stand be­side the 1917Amer­i­can LeFrance fire truck.

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