Kansas City names Paul Berardi as its new fire chief

Kansas City has named Paul Berardi as its fire chief, replacing Smokey Dyer, who retired July 30.

Berardi had been serving as interim fire chief since Dyer departed and brings more than 26 years of service with the Fire Department, including 11 years as deputy chief. His salary will be $140,000.

“In his short tenure as interim fire chief, Paul Berardi has exhibited the responsiveness, strength, leadership and determination the city of Kansas City needs in a fire chief,” City Manager Troy Schulte said in a news release Thursday. “I believe Chief Berardi understands the critical challenges that face both our city and the (Fire Department) and will address them with objectivity.”

Berardi said his priorities will include completing a new plan for the department and seeking credentialing for the department through the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

The city conducted a nationwide search because this is a pivotal time for the Fire Department as it tries to complete the transition to a fully blended fire/ambulance service with nearly 1,300 employees.

The city merged the former MAST ambulance service with the Fire Department in 2010, but it hasn’t always been the smoothest merger, and the department is now launching pilot programs to try to relieve the burden on the busiest ambulance crews and improve efficiency.

Berardi had led the Professional Development Bureau and the Medical Bureau and had served as designated shift commander responsible for emergency service operations citywide. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baker University and a master of public administration from UMKC’s Bloch School of Management.