Fire Chief Jerry Snyder has decided to retire after 36 years of service, and the city is looking internally to find a replacement.
Snyder said he thinks it’s time to give the responsibility of running and managing the fire department to “the younger guys.” His last day will be Feb. 28.
City officials said this retirement will not be a “pretend” one like what happened in March 2010 when Snyder “retired” for six weeks to help save the city money by eliminating their obligation to contribute further to his pension.
The city then hired him back.
As for finding a replacement, Snyder said city officials are looking at promoting from within the department. He hopes city manager Ron Fehr will make an announcement in the coming weeks.
Fehr said he has encouraged various department heads to look at succession planning, and Snyder was no exception. Fehr said if a suitable successor is not found in-house, the city will begin an outside search for a new fire chief.
Snyder started working for the department Jan. 3, 1977. He said he almost quit that first year out of boredom. His first station was the one on the corner of Anderson and Wreath Avenues.
“It was pretty quiet back then,” he said. “There wasn’t much training or calls to respond to.”
Snyder said he was transferred to what was then the headquarters, now Fire Station 2, on Poyntz Avenue and 11th Street. Responding to one of several fires set by a local arsonist got him hooked.
Snyder has been the fire chief since 2005 minus the six-week interval in 2010.
While he is moving on, he’s said he’s not moving away.
“Right now I don’t have any plans,” Snyder said. “Spend more times with the grandkids and work on my honey-do list.”
He said he wants to stay involved with the community. He resigned from the Boys and Girls Club board, but has retained his position on the Salvation Army board. He and his wife will probably discuss how he will stay involved in the community in the coming years, but for now the Salvation Army board will suffice.
His wife, Belinda who owns Shear Dynamics Salon and Day Spa in Aggieville, will continue to run her business, but Snyder admitted he will probably be spending more time there working on maintenance projects. He said he has always done small maintenance for his wife’s business, but imagines that will increase with his retirement.
Fehr said Snyder has been a great addition to the department and appreciates all his hard work and dedication to Manhattan and the fire department.
“We have been very fortunate to have Jerry at the helm,” Fehr said. “He will be missed, but we are happy to see him spending more time with his family.”