EAST PEORIA — Deputy Chief John Knapp was named interim chief of the East Peoria Fire Department in May. His title shortens next week when the "interim" qualifier gets dropped and Knapp becomes the department's permanent chief.

The City Council this week approved the appointment of Knapp, who has been with the department since 1995.

"It has been an incredible privilege for me personally to have had the opportunity to work with such a diverse, intelligent, caring and compassionate group of professionals," Knapp said in a prepared statement read during this week's City Council meeting. Knapp, who was out of the state and unable to attend his official appointment, also said, "My hope, for my partners at the EPFD, is that we will never settle for anything other than being the best in the business."

Knapp assumed interim chief duties in May following the retirement of Chief Alan Servis. It was his second tour of duty as interim chief after being appointed to the position in 2015 following the retirement of then-Chief William Darin.

Knapp's appointment, at a salary of $120,675 a year, triggered changes in command below him. Assistant Chief Ryan Beck will become deputy chief of EMS operations and training, while Assistant Chief Brett Brown will become deputy chief of fire operations and training. Beck has been with the department for 18 years, Brown for 23 years.

Firefighter Chuck Melton, with 18 years of experience with the department, was promoted to lieutenant.

All of the men will be sworn in on Aug. 16, beginning at 10 a.m. at East Peoria City Hall, 401 W. Washington Street, in the City Council chambers.

Knapp's aim as chief is to keep improving fire and emergency service in East Peoria.

"We will improve our second-to-none delivery of service to our citizens by developing our leadership from within. We will do this with expanded training, further education and by building relationships, both internally and externally, throughout the region," Knapp said. "Over the next several years, you can expect to see a group of young firefighter/paramedics performing one of the world’s most challenging and stressful jobs safer and more efficient than ever before."

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at shilyard@pjstar.com. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.