Kansas City Fire Chief Donna Lake announces retirement

Fire Chief Donna Lake is announcing her retirement from the Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) after more than 30 years of service. Lake was the first female Fire Chief in the history of Kansas City. She was appointed by former City Manager Troy Schulte in November of 2019.

Lake thanked staff in a letter Tuesday, Jan. 3, saying to lead the organization was her lifelong dream. During her time as Fire Chief she helped launch a Community Paramedicine Program, started significant work improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), conducted multiple vaccination clinics, re-opened Fire Station 40, became world champions in EMS, began Basic Life Support 911 services, sent women and men of the Fire Department to world-renowned training, made mental and emotional health a priority, implemented new technology, equipment, radios, self-contained breathing apparatus, and many other accomplishments.

“Serving the residents of Kansas City for 30 and a half years has brought me great joy.,” Lake said. “However, serving each of you through leading the department is even more joyous as it enabled each and every one of you to serve our City better. There are just no words to describe how proud I am of how much we’ve grown as a premier emergency medical and fire suppression service in this time. Each one of you has played a significant part in that. You made it easy for me to be Fire Chief.”

The fire service has always been a major part of Lake’s life, as her father also had a distinguished career with KCFD. Lake started with the department in 1992 and moved through the ranks from firefighter to assistant fire chief. Her last assignment with KCFD was commanding the Technical Services Bureau, which includes fleet, facilities, IT, logistics and other core internal functions. A graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program, Lake holds a master’s in Public Administration from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s in Public Relations from the University of Central Missouri.

“Fire Chief Donna Lake has shown incredible leadership and passion for public safety over the past 30 years, working to create a stronger Kansas City Fire Department,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “As the first woman to lead the Department, Chief Lake is a trailblazer and inspiration for women, showing them, they too can aspire to lead in public safety.”

During the pandemic and after, Lucas said Chief Lake worked to find solutions for better representation, recruitment, and retention, and ensured the City’s firefighters are taken care of to best serve the community.

“We will miss Chief Lake and wish her well in the future,” Lucas said. ” I look forward to working with our leadership to ensure strong management for the best interest of our firefighters, paramedics, and community.”

City Manager Brian Platt said the City intends to pursue a national search for a replacement for Chief Lake.

“Thanks to Chief Lake, we’ve made tremendous improvements in the way we serve our residents and also better support our own firefighters internally,” Platt said. “We are forever grateful for her service and dedication to our city.”

Lake’s retirement will go into effect January 27, 2023. An interim Fire Chief will be selected, and a search will begin for the next Fire Chief of Kansas City.

The information in this article is from a press release published by the City of Kansas City on January 3, 2023.

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