Knott chosen as new Green Bay Metro Fire chief
By Daniel Kramer
GREEN BAY – The Police & Fire Commission has named Rockford Illinois Fire Department Division Chief Matthew Knott to be the new Green Bay Metro Fire chief.
“Yeah, I’m super excited,” he told the Press Times. “You know, Green Bay is a similar town to where I’m from and my wife and I are very excited about moving up there and being part of the community.”
Knott was chosen over Green Bay Metro Fire Department Assistant Chief Robert Goplin and Green Bay Police & Fire Commission President Rod Goldhahn explained that his team went through a process of extensive interviews with the candidates.
“We had two very highly qualified candidates, and in fact very similar candidates with some of their skills and backgrounds,” Goldhahn said. “But in assessing all of the factors that we looked at in the process, the commission decided that Matthew was the better choice for us right now.”
Goldhahn went on to say that they were looking for someone who worked for a larger department, someone who had experience in all aspects of fire and EMS services, and had a proven record of results in those areas as well as someone who had a record of department performance and improvements.
The Rockford fire department has about 300 employees, whereas the Green Bay department has just over 200.
“They have 11 stations and a 911 center,” Goldhahn said. “We have nine stations so reasonably comparable in size and servicing a metropolitan area along with shared services with surrounding areas as well.”
Outgoing Green Bay Metro Fire Chief David Litton left some big boots to fill.
In 2015, under his watch, Green Bay was the first city in Wisconsin to achieve a Class 1 Public Protection Rating from the Insurance Services Office.
Litton, who served as president of the Wisconsin Fire Chiefs Association, also oversaw the merger of the Green Bay, Allouez, and Bellevue fire departments.
“I think that’s one of the things that’s most appealing about the Green Bay Metro fire department,” Knott said. “There has been this long history of doing great things, you know, leading innovation and moving that organization forward. And I would just like to be part of that organization as a whole but actually take it to the next level and keep moving forward and working with our men and women and figuring out what’s next and how we lead the organization well into the future.”
No date has been set yet for Knott to start but Goldhahn said he thinks the human resources department will try their best to be able to provide as much crossover with Chief Litton as they can.
“With a job of this magnitude, you want to make sure that you do a thorough process and don’t cut any corners or be driven by schedule,” Goldhahn said. “You really need to be driven by letting the process work out. So we had commissioner schedules, candidates schedules, doing the interviews, the discussions and afterwards the background investigations that we do on the candidates. Completing all that takes time, and we let that process play out.”
Knott is eager to get to Green Bay and get started.
“You know, I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I’m coming from outside and I have to rely on our staff to show me exactly where some great opportunities are.”
Knott said he’s dealt with budget challenges.
“I think that we overcome a lot of that by building relationships and making sure that we’re telling that whole story,” he continued. “That we’re using data to drive some decisions and those personal relationships really make things work for us.
“And so I would hope to build collaboration and work together cooperatively and really understand the whole needs of the community but also make sure that the needs of our department are really highlighted.
“Specifically, one of the biggest factors that is of concern right now are some of the football games and the large-scale events that are occurring. So making sure we have a plan for that. I plan to meet our internal team. And, and then, you know, like I said, just work on a seamless transition as we move forward.”