Schenectady County

Scotia fire chief resigns

Nearly two months after an effort to remove funding for his position was turned back, village Fire C

Nearly two months after an effort to remove funding for his position was turned back, village Fire Chief Richard Kasko has submitted his resignation.

Capt. Ken Almy, president of the Scotia Permanent Firemen’s Association, confirmed that Kasko had informed the staff that he is leaving to take a job in the private sector. He did not identify the new position.

Kasko was out of the area attending a wedding and could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

“His leadership skills and knowledge will be sorely missed by our department,” Almy said. “I’m sure the mayor and the village Board of Trustees will do the right thing and hire a full-time paid fire chief to lead our department in the future.”

Almy said Kasko brought “strong leadership and a strong teaching ability” to the department.

Mayor Kris Kastberg had proposed not funding Kasko’s $70,000 salary in the 2008-09 budget to give the board more flexibility in exploring possible reorganization of the department. The proposal did not go forward after the union voiced strong opposition, citing the need to have an experienced full-time chief.

The board last month also tabled a proposal to change the village code to allow contracting out for fire management services. It has sent out a request for proposals to the Schenectady Fire Department to determine interest in taking over fire management but had not heard back.

Kastberg said the board learned on Tuesday about the resignation, which takes effect on June 21. He said the board would meet on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Village Hall to discuss its options. In the meantime, he said village officials are checking with civil service officials about the proper procedures. Scotia has both paid and volunteer firefighters, so Volunteer Chief Jim Nevins would become acting chief in the absence of a paid chief.

The board would also have to decide whether it is going to fill the position from within the department or hire an outside individual.

Kastberg praised Kasko’s putting in place a central command system for emergencies and for improving relations with other neighboring departments.

“He’s done a lot to improve the overall planning of our department,” he said.

Kasko has been with Scotia since 2004. He came from Texas, where he was chief of a volunteer fire department and also ran a fire training program specializing in petroleum fires. He also served as a volunteer assistant chief with the Stratton Air National Guard Base fire department. In addition, he taught at the New York State Fire Academy in Montour Falls.

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