Evanston Battalion Fire Chief to retire next week

Audrey Cheng

After 35 years of service to Evanston, Battalion Fire Chief Donald Kunita will retire Monday from the Evanston fire department.

Kunita began working as a firefighter at the department in 1976, when it began its new paramedic program, according to a city news release issued Wednesday. As an Asian-American, he was part of a group of 10 hires that contributed to the diversification of the department. The group also included the department’s first female firefighter, according to the release.

After becoming a paramedic in 1979, he worked as a fire inspector and investigator. Kunita became captain in 1985 and in 2003 was promoted to battalion chief, leading a staff of 32 firefighters.

In the news release, Kunita noted the many changes that have occcured in the fire service over time. Those changes include the addition of a breathing apparatus, improved radio communications and enclosed cabs on vehicles that allow firefighters to ride on the inside of the apparatus.

Evanston Fire Chief Greg Klaiber characterized Kunita as a stable and reliable in an Evanston Review article published Tuesday.

“The thing I’ll miss most about him is his clear thinking and steady, calm demeanor in approaching issues in our department,” Klaiber said in the article.

The department will present a farewell ceremony for Kunita at 3 p.m. Monday at its headquarters, 909 Lake St.

– Audrey Cheng