TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Duane Whitelaw, a longtime staple of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, worked his last day as fire chief on Friday.
“It’s time to move on to the next stage in my life,” said Whitelaw, who announced his retirement last week. “Working for public safety tends to be a young person’s job.”
With several of the projects he oversaw as chief coming to a close, Whitelaw said last week he is ready to move to the next opportunity in life.
He started his career as a volunteer firefighter in Susanville in 1976. In 1985, he moved to the Tahoe region and became a part-time employee and certified paramedic with the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, which at that time covered Crystal Bay to Carnelian Bay. In October of 1991, he became chief of the district.
In 1993, the North Tahoe and the Tahoe City fire districts consolidated and became today’s much-larger North Tahoe Fire Protection District.
Whitelaw has received numerous awards from the local, state and federal level over the years for his work in Lake Tahoe. Last month, he accepted a joint award for Public Servant of the Year, along with the basin’s other fire chiefs, at the North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce/CVB/Resort Association 58th Annual Community Awards dinner at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
Though he is not sure what he will do next, Whitelaw said he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, children and grandchildren.
A celebration of Whitelaw’s career will be held at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new North Tahoe Fire Station on Fairway Drive at a to-be-determined time on Friday, April 20.
Assistant Chief Peter Poe will be acting fire chief while the district works through the recruitment process.