Schenectady County

Della Rocco, a 36-year veteran of Schenectady Fire Department, becomes its new leader

He replaces Robert Farstad, who officially left office on Sunday.

Fighting fires wasn’t really in the cards for Michael Della Rocco during the early 1970s.

At the time, he was attending the University at Albany with the hope of one day becoming an English teacher. But then some of his friends and family urged him to take the firefighter’s exam.

“They kind of twisted my arm,” he recalled.

The rest was history. Della Rocco joined the Schenectady Fire Department in 1975, became an officer in 1983 and on Monday, was officially appointed chief of the department.

Della Rocco replaces the retiring Robert Farstad, who officially left office on Sunday. Farstad, however, took about three weeks of vacation time before officially leaving office, meaning Della Rocco has been leading the department for most of the month.

“He’s not going to miss a beat,” said acting Mayor Gary McCarthy after making the appointment official during a late-morning ceremony at City Hall.

For more on the story, see Tuesday’s print editions of The Daily Gazette and a report Tuesday at

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