POUGHKEEPSIE – Matt Kneeter, a veteran firefighter who lost his job in Newburgh due to layoffs, has been hired by the City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department. The firefighter was hired by Newburgh in 2016, with his position being paid for by a federal SAFER grant. Budget woes in the City of Newburgh caused Kneeter and several of his fellow firefighters to be laid off earlier this month.
Of the hiring, Mark Johnson, Poughkeepsie’s fire chief said, “We’re happy that we had an opening and with the city administrator’s and mayor’s blessing, we reached out to Newburgh to see if we could get one of their people – to save their job. Matt was one of the interviewees and we chose him.”
The benefit of hiring a professional firefighter from another department is that the cost of training versus hiring off of the civil service list is that the cost of training is negligible.
Firefighter Kneeter resides in Ulster County and called the transition from Newburgh to Poughkeepsie an easy one. “There are a lot of similarities in the two departments,” said the firefighter who started his new job on Monday.
Mayor Rob Rolison and City Administrator Marc Nelson met with Kneeter on Tuesday at the Main Street firehouse to formally welcome him to the city.
“We’re excited for Matt to have him join such a proud fire department here in the City of Poughkeepsie,” said Rolison, adding “Being laid off is certainly not something that anyone anticipates or wants to happen to them, but we’re glad to have him.”
Echoing Chief Johnson’s sentiment, Rolison indicated that there may be an opportunity to hire a few more former Newburgh firefighters. “If we can help out in the City of Poughkeepsie, we’re going to,” said Rolison.
The Newburgh firefighters’ union, IAFF Local 589 was disappointed that Kneeter and several of his colleagues were laid off. “Poughkeepsie has saved the jobs of six Newburgh firefighters since 2014,” said Local 589 President Brendan Hogan. “We’re glad that Matt has a job in a city where he doesn’t have to worry about being laid off. We wish him the best in his new firehouse.”