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New fire chief eager to put experience to work

Getting to know Gwinnett County Fire Chief Casey Snyder.


Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Casey Snyder, a 24-year veteran of Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services, took the reins as fire chief just over a month ago. "It's just something I've got to learn and can't wait to keep getting better at," he said of the position.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Casey Snyder, a 24-year veteran of Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services, took the reins as fire chief just over a month ago. "It's just something I've got to learn and can't wait to keep getting better at," he said of the position.

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Gwinnett County Fire Chief Casey Snyder

Getting to know Gwinnett County Fire Chief Casey Snyder.

Getting to know Gwinnett County Fire Chief Casey Snyder.

GWINNETT COUNTY FIRE CHIEFS

Raymond Mattison: Jan. 1971 — Jan. 1984

Kent Ryan: April 1984 — Feb. 1985

Jack Holland: April 1985 — Jan. 1988

Michael Buice: Feb. 1988 — Sept. 2001

Jack McElfish: Oct. 2002 — Feb. 2006

Steve Rolader: March 2006 — Sept. 2009

Bill Myers: Sept. 2009 — May 2013

Casey Snyder: June 2013 — present

LAWRENCEVILLE -- When Gwinnett County Fire Chief Bill Myers "suddenly" announced his retirement in May (the move had been anticipated in inner circles for many months), the public wondered who would fill his boots -- the four-year leader of the department seemed to have left county officials with less than two weeks to find his replacement.

Meet Casey Snyder.

It only took the county a week to officially announce Snyder as Gwinnett's eighth fire chief. Most recently assistant chief of operations, the 24-year veteran of the department had long been groomed for the promotion: During his time, he's filled roles from everyday firefighter to EMS, to training instructor and training manager. He did a couple of years in the business services section and a couple more in an administrative operations position.

He's done a little bit of everything and done it well.

The Daily Post recently sat down with Snyder, who lives in Gwinnett with his wife Beverly and 9-year-old daughter Ryley, to chat about the ins and outs of his new gig. The following are his responses to a variety of topics:

On his first month or so as chief

The last month, it's been busy and it's certainly a new job, new responsibilities and getting around to meet people and things like that. A lot of it's been just meeting the various people around the county and learning the new position.

On if his promotion was expected

Chief Myers thought he would retire, he had said (last year) he was going to retire probably in 2013. There was some preparation behind it but it's like everything else -- until you actually sit in the position, it's vastly different than looking from the outside in. There's certainly a learning curve that's gonna come with it. But I was well prepared.

On how he became chief

I worked my way up through the ranks, and it's one of those things where you get to the next level and you're like, 'OK, I like doing this,' and then you see the other position and you think you can do that too. And you keep moving up ... It's hard to say, 'I'll be in that position,' because it's only one position and it's a large department with a lot of very, very good people. So it's an honor and it's certainly humbling to be in this position.

On increasing focus on prevention and education

We've slowly been moving that direction. We've done some things with drownings, we've done some things with apartment complexes and those have been successful programs. We've done some things with the hotels and those have been successful. Now it's more we're going to start focusing on vulnerable populations ... We're gonna work toward trying to prevent the slips, trips and falls and other incidents with the elderly, then at the same time educate the children so that they can be safer.

On what made him want to be a firefighter

I like to help people. Sometimes it takes a while for somebody when they first get into this because they like to run the calls and they like to fight the fires. But at the end of the day it filters down to you like to help people. The outcome when you help somebody is very gratifying.

On other positions he's had within the department

I got to work in training, as far as being an instructor and also being a manager in training, and then I spent some time working with the EMS piece of it. And then in the operations division in an administrative position, and then I've had my field time too. So I've had a good mix of both sides and enjoyed all of it. I also did a couple of years in the business services section, which I learned a lot about the budget and logistics and things like that.

On any surprises since taking over as chief

No surprises. My time right now has been ... concentrating on multiple different things, which is different. It's usually a one-track mind. In the fire chief's position you have to have a three-, four-, five-track mind just to focus on different things that occur.

On if his daughter comprehends his new job

I think she does. I think the promotional ceremony drove a lot of it home for her. She realized what it meant, with all the people being there. I think it's a little hard for a 9-year-old to totally understand it all, but that helped. She certainly said later, she said, "This is a big thing, isn't it dad?" And yeah, on some scales it is.

On how long he'd like to be chief

It's not something that I've really put a number on. I want to do it as long as I'm effective. We've been very blessed to have a great administration that has moved this department forward each time. I want to continue to do that, and once you get to that point where you don't feel like you can do that anymore, it's certainly time to pass it on to somebody else ... We've been very, very blessed with being able to bring our department forward each and every time we've changed.

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Comments

Why_not 1 year, 2 months ago

Leading a department this size is no easy task. It starts with garnering the respect of all those at lowers ranks. As a retiree of this department I feel he could be a little lacking in that area but only time will tell if it can be accomplished. I wish him the best because a lot of people are watching.

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joepublix 1 year, 2 months ago

There is no doubt this Department will require someone to "lead" it and not just "hold on for the ride." Casey was a good choice for the position, instead of going outside. I would hope that he will give the Department direction and continue to help it improve. Some things for him to keep in mind: Remember where you came from, the little people under you can make or break you and "being along for the ride" doesn't earn you respect, just criticism. Follow a Rolader role model, not some of the others. Peace and best of luck!

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