Veteran firefighter named as Gwinnett’s new fire chief

Listen to this article.

This post is more than 1 year old.

Gwinnett County Administrator Glenn Stephens has announced the appointment of Assistant Fire Chief Russell Knick to succeed Fire Chief Casey Snyder, who is retiring after 29 years of service to Gwinnett County. Knick, a 24-year veteran of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, assumes his new role on May 6 and is expected to announce additional promotions to fill other key leadership positions in the coming weeks.

Stephens commended Snyder for promoting long-term efficient service delivery, community risk reduction and enhanced emergency medical operations.

“Under Casey’s watch, the department received international accreditation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence and the county’s ISO classification rating improved from a 4 to a 2. If these accomplishments weren’t enough, the department also opened a new fire training facility, Fire Station 31, Maxwell High School Training Tower, and relocated Fire Stations 10 and 15 during the five years he served as chief. I wish Casey the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Gwinnett County Administrator Glenn Stephens

With growing demand on the department for medical services, Snyder focused efforts on increasing recruit training to the paramedic level and adding medical units to all stations. With Board of Commissioners and County Administration support, the department is on track to place two additional med units and a new ladder truck into service before the end of the year. The department’s paramedic program was also reaccredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs during Snyder’s tenure.

Knick, who will oversee the department of 952 employees, began his career with Gwinnett County in 1990 in the Sheriff’s Office before transferring to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services in 1993. Knick’s experience in fire and emergency medical services management includes high-profile assignments in the areas of strategic planning, leadership development, training and community partnering initiatives.

As a core member of the department’s executive strategy-making team for many years, Knick managed the department’s balanced scorecard leading to service and program improvements; administered the program to achieve international accreditation, making GFES one of only 247 agencies worldwide to hold this designation; oversaw the successful effort to reduce the county’s insurance rating; and served as liaison for local and state level programs and events.

Knick has served for the past three years as assistant chief for the operations division, the department’s largest division consisting of more than 850 sworn personnel, 31 fire stations and the Fire Academy. He previously held positions of fire academy director and district commander in the chief’s office.

“Our commitment to looking ahead and fostering leadership development within county government gives us the ability to choose from seasoned leaders who will provide continuity and strong direction for the organization. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services is a model for effective succession planning. Russell has worked his way up through the ranks, gaining valuable knowledge and skills from having worked in many areas of the department over the years.”

Glenn Stephens

Stephens cited Knick’s advocacy of employee safety and engagement as one of his core strengths.

Knick, a Lawrenceville native, lives in Commerce with his wife, Patti. They have two grown children.