Wausau Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa. Photo courtesy of the Wausau Fire Department

By Shereen Siewert

Wausau Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa will step down from her role and retire on April 1 after nearly three decades of service to the Wausau and Stevens Point communities, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

Kujawa’s career is marked with significant milestones starting in 1992, when she became the first female firefighter in Stevens Point Fire Department history. She was instrumental in SPFD’s rise to a paramedic level of service, completing her paramedic training in 1998. After rising through the ranks, Kujawa became the department’s first female chief in 2014, then became the first female fire chief in the Wausau Fire Department’s 150-year history when she accepted that position in 2014.

In a news release, Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg said Chief Kujawa’s contributions to the Wausau and Stevens Point communities through her selfless service have been trailblazing and have made permanent positive impacts within both communities.

Upon Chief Kujawa’s arrival at Wausau Fire Department, she quickly discovered the myriad of problems that needed solutions, Rosenberg’s release stated. Without hesitation, she dove headlong into the long process of setting a new course for the Wausau Fire Department. She began by triaging the needs of the department; focusing on addressing workplace safety and enacted sweeping changes to department operations.

Safety initiatives that Chief Kujawa spearheaded include the replacement of SCBA’s, replacement of turn-out gear, diesel exhaust filtering systems, portable radio replacement, replacement of aging apparatus, firefighting equipment, facility repairs, and replacement of Fire Station Two.

“Through hard work, leveraging resources, team-building, strategic planning, leadership development, and a sincere passion for serving others Chief Kujawa has plotted a new course for the Wausau Fire Department,” Rosenberg said in her release. “She has pushed the department toward her ultimate goal, of organizational excellence with a utopic type work atmosphere. It is difficult to convey the entirety and gravity of the impact Chief Kujawa’s leadership has had not only upon the department but upon the entire Wausau community.When speaking with department members about her upcoming retirement comments keep focusing on the kind and compassionate person that she is.”

Rosenberg noted that in addition to the large-scale contributions Kujawa made to the community, is the little things she does for department members that are talked about first. When a member or family member of the department is sick, hurting, or in need, she frequently calls, sends cards, text messages, or stops to visit. She does this quietly, wanting to offer her support in any way she can.

“Her undeniable servant’s heart is revealed in these moments,” Rosenberg said in the release. “Chief Kujawa will be dearly missed by the members of the Wausau Fire Department but we are all excited to see her retire to spend more time with her husband Jeff, three children, five grandchildren, two dogs, one cat, and her beloved cow Spicey.”