Wauconda Fire Chief David Dato retiring
Longtime Wauconda Fire District Chief David Dato will retire in August, officials announced Friday.
He'll be replaced by Michael Wahl, the district's deputy chief.
Dato, 57, has served with the fire district, which handles emergencies in Wauconda, Island Lake and other nearby communities in Lake and McHenry counties, for 37 years. He's been chief for 23 years, taking the reins in 1992.
Dato began working with the department part-time while in college. He spent two years with the North Maine Fire Protection District in Des Plaines before joining the Wauconda district for good in 1984.
He said he'll miss the people and some of the excitement.
"I don't think my wife will miss the pager going off at all hours of the day and night," Dato said.
Although leaving the fire service, Dato said he is considering employment opportunities in public safety communications.
A traditional walkout ceremony is planned for Aug. 6, his last scheduled day of work.
Wahl joined the Wauconda Fire District in 1987. He served as lieutenant and captain before being named deputy chief.
"The department's going to be in great hands," Dato said. "We've got a great team here."
Wahl couldn't be reached for comment.
The fire district is an independent government agency, unlike traditional municipal fire departments.
Wauconda Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner was quick to praise Dato. He called him an expert at emergency communications -- a topic that's been an issue in Wauconda as officials consider closing the police department's 911 dispatch center and outsourcing that service to save money.
Maxeiner also called Dato an excellent informational resource.
"Just explaining the complexity and the demands of the fire district and how it works with the village," Maxeiner said.