Kansas Battalion Chief Dies On Duty

An administrative battalion chief with the Wichita Fire Department died on Monday, November 15 while working in his office.

Donald Kersting, 47, served the fire department for 27 years, said Capt. Ron Aaron.

"He was very intelligent and had a sharp sense of humor," Aaron said. "He always smiled and was always optimistic." Kersting was also very healthy and active, Aaron said. He had been serving in an administrative capacity for just two years and previously served as a battalion chief in the field. He was also a volunteer member at his hometown fire department, Butler County Fire District #8 in Douglass.

Aaron said Kersting's death has hit the department very hard. "These kinds of deaths are the deaths that you don't see coming," he said.

Kersting went through his morning routine last Monday with no problems, Aaron said. He was then alone in his office for about 10 minutes when colleagues found him slumped at his desk. The cause of death is yet to be determined.

After Kersting was stricken, colleagues responded with basic life support and an AED, and transported him to St. Francis Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 10 a.m.

Kersting is survived by his wife Laura - his high school sweetheart - and their six children. Two of the children are in the military and the others are in high school and college, Aaron said. He added that Kersting's children were his main focus in life. He said Kersting was always active in the community, volunteering with high school football games and other events.

The Wichita, Kansas Fire Department has 388 members operating out of 18 fire stations, covering over 130 square miles of Wichita and Sedgwick County.

A funeral service was held last Friday, November 19 at Central Community Church in Wichita. A memorial has been established with Butler County Fire District #8 at P.O. Box 37 in Douglass, Kansas 67039.

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