December 6, 2021

TenKate set for promotion to CFD deputy chief

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

A man walks a dog in front Cortland Fire Department’s Court Street station in this March 2020 Cortland Standard file photo.

The City of Cortland Fire Department will swear in Capt. Michael TenKate as deputy chief on Wednesday after serving the department for almost 20 years.

As deputy chief, TenKate said he wants to work toward better community engagement and encourage the department to do its best, he said.

“I have mixed feelings — I am certainly a little bit overwhelmed with the amount of responsibilities I have and when I look back at the people that have held this position in the past, all of them have been mentors to me,” TenKate said. “Adding my name to that list is very humbling.”

Working as chief at the Virgil Fire Department from 2009 to 2013 has prepared TenKate for the administrative responsibility, as has his position as director of the code enforcement department, said Fire Chief Wayne Friedman.

“Having that background and ability to deal with the budget and the purchasing and the networking he’s developed among other departments in the city will help him in this position,” Friedman said. “He’s not afraid to try something and sometimes you need that in an organization.”

The selection process was stricter than usual in selecting a deputy chief, Friedman said. It included an oral interview, a written assessment, emergency operation scenarios and administrative scenarios, components that ordinarily are not included in the selection.

Through his time with the City of Cortland Fire Department, TenKate was influential in developing the hazardous materials team, special operations training, water rescue training and confined space training, Friedman said.

TenKate said parents, grandfathers and great-grandfathers were involved in both fire service and law enforcement, TenKate said.

“It was always what I wanted to do,” TenKate said. “I really thought I wanted to be a police officer and maybe I would volunteer as a firefighter only, but then I did an internship as part of that (policing) and I just realized that law enforcement wasn’t for me and then I was focused on being a firefighter.”

TenKate joined the Freeville Fire Department when he turned 18 and was hired in the City of Cortland in 2001, TenKate said. He is still an active volunteer in Virgil.

“I like that it’s different every day and I never know what the day is going to bring but I also feel it’s an honor to help people in their time of need,” TenKate said. “There is a tremendous amount of job satisfaction to help people when they need help.”