Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Division Fire Chief retires after 30 years serving community

Since he started as a firefighter at the Evanston Fire Department, Division Fire Chief Kevin Kelly knew he was there to stay.

He stayed for 30 years. On Monday, Kelly completed his last day, after three decades of service.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said, “but I’ve prepared myself for this day. My wife and I, we’ve talked it over.”

In his most recent position, Kelly, 56, worked in code enforcement, public education, and fire investigation.

“He did all of those very well,” Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky said. “He and I worked in the bureau when there was a lot of change. Probably for the last 17 years, we’ve been the busiest we’ve ever been. It took a lot of effort and a lot of work.”

Kelly entered the fire department as a firefighter in 1978. He then became a paramedic before transferring to the Fire Prevention Bureau in 1990 as a fire inspector and investigator.

Working long hours as a firefighter was a change for Kelly.

“It’s living here at the station for 24 hours,” he said. “It’s your home away from home. That’s your family away from your family. The camaraderie is something special in the fire service.”

As a fire inspector, he inspected new condominiums to make sure they complied with fire codes.

“When the condominiums started, we never envisioned it would take off as it did,” he said. “There’s not too much land that you’d think they’d continue. You think it’s over, but it’s not, it just keeps going.”

Kelly’s biggest contribution to the department was his big concern for safety and fire prevention, Fire Captain Dale Fochs said.

“He was one of our best guys,” he said. “We’re going to miss him greatly.”

The fire department has not yet selected a replacement for Kelly’s position. Berkowsky said the new chief will be chosen sometime in April. The new position will also be responsible for emergency management.

Kelly plans to umpire high school and Little League baseball, an activity he recently took up. But his wife has other plans for him.

“My wife has a list,” he said. “I don’t even want to ask how long.”

[email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Division Fire Chief retires after 30 years serving community