By Paul Thompson
Kansas City, Missouri Fire Chief Paul Berardi has announced his retirement, effective November 11.
Berardi has spent 32 years with KCFD, and has been leading the department since 2013. Berardi’s impending departure follows the May 2017 retirement of former Chief of Police Darryl Forté. Rick Smith, previously the commander of KCPD’s Central Patrol Division, was tapped to replace Forté in late July. Now, less than six months since Forté initially announced his intent to retire, Kansas City’s fire department will also be on the hunt for a new leader.
A press release issued on the morning of Wednesday, September 6 by the City of Kansas City, Missouri includes excerpts from Berardi’s resignation letter.
“We have met many challenges these past five years and it has been a great honor to be called Chief,” Berardi wrote. “I have had the honor of working alongside some of the best fire and EMS service professionals anywhere and sincerely appreciate your commitment to the labor and management partnership that has done much to fuel our improvement. Organizationally our department is strong and, when called upon, it has never faltered and never will.”
The release also indicated that Berardi is especially proud of three department improvements that have been implemented during his time as Kansas City’s fire chief. They include the creation of an apprenticeship program for high school students, the adoption of decentralized and electronic in-service training, and efforts to regionalize the department’s dispatching. Recently, Berardi has also been a vocal supporter of KCFD’s involvement with the PulsePoint phone app – which connects those suffering from cardiac arrest with CPR-trained individuals and allows the general public to see a perpetually updating list of all the calls that the fire department is responding to.
In the City’s press release, City Manager Troy Schulte thanked Berardi for his service to Kansas City.
“Chief Berardi has done an outstanding job leading our fire department and we will sorely miss his dedication and commitment to making sure that all our residents receive the best fire and EMS service in the country,” Schulte said. “I don’t necessarily look forward to trying to fill his shoes, but I believe the groundwork he’s laid for the next chief is solid and I thank him for that.”