December 2, 2021

City of Cortland chief Charles Glover to retire in September

Fighting fires for 42 years

Shenandoah Briere/Staff Reporter

Cortland City Fire Charles Glover stands in front of re engine 4 at the re department station on Court Street. Glover’s last day as chief will be Sept. 20 after serving over four decades at the department.

It was the late 1980s. Charles Glover was just beginning his time as a paid fire-fighter with the city of Cortland when he had to respond to a fire that had started after residents on Clinton Street thought they put out a fire in a piece of furniture.

The fire killed a person.

“I think that one bugs me the most,” Glover said, because it was one he knew could have been prevented had the residents called the department to ensure the fire was out.

But back then, Glover said, people hesitated to call the fire department.

“I’m hoping that’s changed,” he said. “When they call us and we get there and it turns out to be nothing, I always emphasize that they did the right thing by calling us. I’d rather be here and it be nothing than you not call us and it be something tragic.”

After almost 42 years of service — nine as chief — Glover will retire from the department. His last day of service will be Sept. 20.

“I’ve been ready for a while,” he said.

Glover was officially hired onto the paid staff in 1986, promoted to captain in 1993 and transferred to director of code enforcement in 2000 before becoming chief in 2010.

Glover had planned to retire in 2009 — he even filed the paperwork — but then mayor-elect Susan Feiszli asked him to stay on as chief.

It’s been almost a decade, and Glover said much has happened with the department.

“I’m proud of the fact that with the fire department’s involvement with code enforcement, inspections (and) fire prevention education that we’ve had a significant impact on the types and severity of fire,” he said.

He noted, knocking on his wooden office desk, the department does not have many huge, front-page fires.

He also said he was happy to get the fire department up-to-date on policies and technology.

“There were challenges and the challenges made the job interesting and at times rewarding,” he said. “I’ve accomplished most of the things I set out to accomplish and it’s just time I think for a new administration at the fire department.”

An interim fire chief is likely to be put in place once Glover leaves until his replacement is named by the city Common Council. The second-ranking officer is Deputy Chief Wayne Friedman.

To become chief, the candidate would need to meet qualifications under the Civil Service Law including being a Fire Officer 3 or education and experience that would substitute for a Fire Officer 3.

Glover said Friedman does meet all the qualifications.

“I’m sad that he’s leaving,” Friedman said. “On a personal note, he has committed over 40 years to the department and the city and seen many thing change and improve in that time. He’s definitely done his share and he needs to move in to the next phase of his life and enjoy life.”

As for what he’ll do during retirement, Glover hasn’t quite figured that out yet.
But he won’t miss his pager going off or phone calls at all hours of the day — he’ll miss the people he’s worked with though, he said.

“I’m just going to sit back and take it easy and then we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’ve been employed pretty much since I was 18 years old and I’m a little bit concerned about what am I going to do with myself.”

And if there’s any advice Glover can leave the fire fighter its this: “Remember what you’re here for. We’re here for the community. At times, we have to make difficult decisions but we have to keep in mind that it’s ultimately the community that we’re charged with protecting. We work for the people and we can’t forget that.”