Bettendorf Fire Chief Steve Knorrek Retiring After 40 Years

On September 6th, 1983, a young man named Steve Knorrek started his career as a firefighter for the Bettendorf Fire Department. 40 years later - on September 8th, 2023 - the young-at-heart Fire Chief will retire after a lifelong career of serving our community. 

Knorrek was only the 5th career firefighter hired by the City of Bettendorf amongst 50 volunteer personnel. The City hired its first career firefighter in 1975. Before that, Bettendorf Fire was 100% volunteers.

“I had no previous firefighting experience or training and no emergency medical certification or training,” said Chief Knorrek. “Neither was a requirement to be hired at that time. My work experience prior to starting here included being a manager at Wendy’s in Bettendorf, a supervisor at my university cafeteria, and house painting.”

In less than 10 years, Knorrek became a Captain and Fire Marshal for Bettendorf Fire. In that same year – 1991 – he received Bettendorf Fire Department Officer of the Year. In 2015, Knorrek was promoted to Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal. In 2018, he became the Interim Fire Chief and Fire Marshal. Then, on December 4th, 2018, he was officially sworn in as Chief. During his career, he has also received the 2015 Governor’s Fire Prevention Officer of the Year Award, been a Member of the American Burn Association International Outreach Committee from 2013-2016, and served on the Board of Directors of the St. Florian Burn Foundation from 2013-2019 – just to name a few.

In addition, Chief Knorrek has grown Bettendorf Fire as the City continues to grow to ensure the safety and protection of every resident and property owner in our community:

“Since Chief Gerry Voelliger retired in April 2018, I have had the privilege of hiring 16 personnel. 8 of these were for newly created firefighter positions approved and funded by Bettendorf City Council,” added Chief Knorrek. “These new positions facilitated 24/7 career personnel response out of the State Street, Spruce Hills, and Surrey Heights Fire Stations.”

In 1983, there were 1,322 calls to Bettendorf Fire. In 2022, there were 4,804 and Bettendorf Fire is on pace to beat that number in 2023.

“Steve was always a very quiet public servant, but one of high ideals and great integrity,” said Decker Ploehn, Bettendorf City Administrator. “He represented the City and Fire Department with great professionalism and has made a huge contribution to our community and the region as a whole. We wish him all the best!”