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Wausau Fire Chief set to retire after trailblazing career

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- After a nearly three decade career filled with firsts, Chief Tracey Kujawa will retire from the Wausau Fire Department on April 1.

Kujawa said she never intended to join the fire service, but an interest in pre-hospital care soon led to fire certification.

"I ended up applying at Stevens Point [Fire Department], at that point in time there were over 100 applicants," said Kujawa.

She not only got the job, but became the first female firefighter with the department.

"Once the guys there knew that I could do my job, and ever probationary firefighter has to show that, I just got a whole lot of support and it really encouraged me in my career," Kujawa said of her first job in the fire service.

Over the years she worked her way up the ladder, eventually becoming Stevens Point's first female fire chief. She served in that position for about 2 years before becoming Wausau's first female chief.

Kathy Strasser, a member of the Wausau Police and Fire Commission, said she's inspired by Kujawa's passion for the job.

"She brought us vision and mission, I would say strategic planning, policies and procedures. We had some of that, but not to the level that she was able to bring," Strasser said. "I think the city of Wausau should feel extremely blessed for the finger prints that she will forever have imprinted on our city."

Kujawa said the best part of the job for her was being able to serve her community daily.

"Everyday is a day that you can give back to your community," she said.

And that mentality will be part of the legacy she leaves behind.

Sarah McGrew

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