Casey Croucher/Recorder staff Mayor Ann Thane, left, stands with retired Amsterdam Fire Chief Richard Liberti, right, after giving him a key to the city.
Mark Perfetti/For The Recorder Amsterdam Fire Chief Richard Liberti makes his final inspection of the department Friday morning on his way out of office and into retirement.
By CASEY CROUCHER
Amsterdam Fire Chief Richard Liberti took his final fire truck ride through the city before starting life after retirement Friday.
City firefighters and police officers stood outside of the fire department Friday afternoon to congratulate Liberti on 34 years at the department, and sent him off in a fire truck for the last time.
Liberti, decked out in his full navy blue dress uniform, rode all over the city, ending his trip at the South Side restaurant, La Cucina, for a celebration.
"The final ride was good; it was special," Liberti said quietly after the ceremonial ride.
In the restaurant, he was greeted by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, Kelly Quist-Demars, representative for U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, Dan Peluso, representative for State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, Mayor Ann Thane and fellow firefighters.
"I worked closely with the chief," Santabarbara said. "He visited me a few times and got me involved in the fire department."
Santabarbara said the chief invited him to stay at the fire house and live like a firefighter for a few hours and it's something he'll never forget.
"I put on the gear, I saw how they live there, how they're a family," he said. "They cook meals together in the fire house and treat each other like they've known each other their whole lives; that's a testament to the chief's work."
Santabarbara presented Liberti with a proclamation congratulating him on 34 years of service and recognizing his hard work. He said the chief was responsible for recruiting and assembling the team at the fire department today.
Peluso also presented the chief with a proclamation on behalf of Tkaczyk.
He told Liberti he would be missed as fire chief in the community.
Quist-Demars told Liberti on behalf of Tonko that his time spent serving the community is greatly appreciated and he went above and beyond in his duties for the fire department.
Thane presented the chief with an honorary key to the city.
"[Liberti] has brought such honor to his position and this community," Thane said. "His department has run beautifully since 1996, and he's just a great man -- a great family man and a great friend."
As for Liberti, he modestly said he was surprised by the celebration.
"I thought I'd work until the afternoon today, get the rest of my stuff and just go home," he said. "It's very special."
He said the department is in good hands with incoming fire Chief Michael Whitty taking his place.
"We're in good hands; there are a lot of great firefighters and there's going to be a great chief," he said. "I've enjoyed working for the mayor and the city. I'll miss the firefighters and everyone I've helped."
He said AFD is all about teamwork and the crew he's leaving behind is a team.
"I'm leaving the city in good hands and passing it on to someone who will insure that everyone and their family is safe."