Connect with us


Trailblazing Fresno Fire Chief Donis Will Retire Next Year



Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis (left) and Mayor Jerry Dyer at the 2021 Gay Pride flag raising at Fresno City Hall. (GV Wire/David Taub)
Share with friends


On her Facebook page, Kerri Donis often posts updates about the dream home she is building in Shell Beach.

So when Donis — the city of Fresno’s fire chief — publicly announced Monday that she is retiring next year, it should have come as no surprise. Shell Beach, after all, is known as a dream destination for retirees.

“This will be my last budget as I intend on retiring in March of ’23, as I’ve shared with the mayor and the city manager,” Donis told the Fresno City Council while presenting her department’s budget.

I have been truly blessed for nine years to do this. It is kind of unheard of …  the life span of a fire chief is like three to five years. And so I just want to thank you for your support for this department and understanding how much we needed it to be lifted up and for your support personally.”

With city support and the help of federal grants, Donis’ final budget will come in at $97 million. The department plans to hire 24 new firefighters (for a total of 367) and increase daily on-duty firefighters from 95 to 103.

Softball Led Donis to Fresno

Donis joined the Fresno Fire Department in 1996 and worked her way up the ladder. When then-chief Rob Brown resigned in 2014 after a domestic violence arrest, Donis made history by becoming the department’s first female chief.

She also participated in the city’s first-ever Pride Flag raising at City Hall last year.

A native of Moline, Illinois, Donis moved west to play college softball at Fresno State. Recruited by legendary coach Margie Wright in the late 1980s, Donis helped lead the Bulldogs to multiple NCAA Women’s College World Series appearances. In 2008, she was named a Top Dog Alumna by the Fresno State Alumni Association on behalf of the athletics department.

Through the years, she has often said that the life lessons she learned playing softball helped prepare to become fire chief.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email