CHIEF SALERNO TO RETIRE
Fire Department: Salerno last of long family line who worked for city
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.