Casey Croucher/Recorder Staff Battalion Chief Michael Whitty, shown Friday in the city of Amsterdam, will begin his new role as Amsterdam Fire Chief July 28.
By CASEY CROUCHER
Battalion Chief Michael Whitty started serving in the Amsterdam Fire Department July 18, 1988 -- and in fewer than 10 days he will begin his role as Amsterdam's new fire chief.
A 26-year member of the department, Whitty said he originally became a firefighter because he thought it was the perfect job for him.
"I recognized it as a good career for me to be able to stay in Amsterdam," he said. "I also really wanted to be a firefighter to help people, so, I've been with the department moving up the ranks over the years."
Whitty said he wanted to take on the role of chief as part of the "progression" of his career.
"It was the next step for me," he said, "and hopefully I have some thoughts and ideas that will continue the traditions and achievements Chief Liberti has put forth over his years as chief."
He will officially take on his chief duties July 28 after current chief, Richard Liberti, retires after 34 years of service at AFD.
"We're going to be in very good hands with [Whitty] as chief," Liberti said. "I have a ton of confidence that he will do well in the position."
Liberti said he thought Whitty was the best choice for the chief position based on his experience in the department.
"I think it's very good choice -- he's got a lot of experience and a lot of front-line experience," he said. "He was shift commander for a number of years, so he knows how to communicate with people, and he'll make a great leader -- he already does."
Mayor Ann Thane said she appointed Whitty to be the city's new chief because she thinks he's extremely qualified.
"I chose [Whitty] because he was highly recommended by the chief, he passed the civil service exam for the position and he's so highly competent and experienced to successfully do the job," she said.
Whitty said he hopes to continue the quality of service AFD has executed under Liberti's leadership and guidance, but he has some changes in mind as well.
"I have goals and ideas as to what I'd like to do as fire chief, but, first and foremost, we're here to protect the life and property of our residents and visitors," he said. "There's around 18,000 people in Amsterdam, (and) I'm looking to maybe refocus some of our resources in areas we've been providing service. No major changes in store for the department, just more efficient."
He said he looks forward to working more with city officials and accepts the challenge of the new position's duties.
"My first thought [when Mayor Thane told me I would be chief] was that I'm looking forward to the challenge and I'm looking forward to working with the mayor and the Common Council to work within the budget we have," he said. "I'm excited to start."