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Battalion Chief, Jon Keiser, dedicated nearly 40 years of service to Racine. Most people in the community know Keiser because of his time spent working with South Shore Fire Department. In February of 2020, he retired from the department. His legacy as a public service worker still carries on.
“People knew him as his role and I think that that says a lot” says his daughter, Elaina Keiser.
He may be retired from the firefighting field, but Keiser is currently working at Occupational Health Care Associates as a part-time Supervisor.
Keiser Serves Local Area
The Racine County resident grew up attending schools in the Racine Unified School District. After graduating from Park High School, Keiser started working as a entry level firefighter. He was 18 years old. While working with South Shore Fire Department, he also attended college.
In 1983, Keiser graduated from Gateway Technical College. His Bachelor’s degree was then obtained from Southern Illinois University in 1986. Keiser progressed in the field, climbing the ladder to Battalion Chief. He was a part of the 1996 graduating class from the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program.
Meanwhile serving his hometown, he began raising a family. Keiser is married and a loving father to Michaela Gutierrez, Kayley Nielsen, Natasha Keiser, Delaney Nielsen and Elaina Keiser. If you lost count, that’s 5 girls. Most recently, he was promoted to Grandpa.
The commonality between his family and his community is that Keiser treats them all as one. Outside of his shift, he’s been a resource for the community. He will always take care of those around him.
His daughter, Elaina Keiser, recalls being with her father at sporting events. If someone was injured, he’d quickly make his way from the stands to the court or field. Keiser never gave a second thought when assisting peers of his daughters or anyone in need, even if he wasn’t technically on the job.
She says “As Battalion Chief, it is so easy to come off intimidating. He is always the first person I call when something happens and I need someone to talk to.” His character has never been shaken even when witnessing moments of crisis. The love he has for his family extends to the Racine Community.
Choosing to become a firefighter is heroic. Even when Keiser was off the clock, he used his profession to help others. If Keiser was giving advice to a future healthcare worker, he’d advise them to be firm in what they believe in. It’s his firm beliefs took him far in his profession.
His heroism was often in action when responding to calls. Yet, it never left him when it stepped foot out of the firehouse. The South Shore Fire Department responds to calls in Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant. There are 4 stations where staff respond to emergencies around the clock, everyday of the year. Other departments don’t have that luxury.
Heroism in Action
Two summers ago, the Keiser family took a vacation to Door County, Wisconsin. While driving, Kieser drove past an accident involving a car and a motorcycle. Individuals riding motorcycle had injuries. Battalion Chief Keiser jumped into action to help.
Eliana Kieser says “He got out of the car and pulled his various first aid kits, suitcases really, from the back of our car and went out there.” Without hesitation, he’s willing to help.
The Fire Department in Door County is run by volunteers. When the rescue squad finally responded to the scene, the Battalion Chief was asked to stay, to help. His experience and knowledge is vital to the lives around him. His ability to spring into action, in challenging circumstances, highlights his expertise.
Supporting First Responders
Everyday there are first responders who risk their lives to keep the community safe. What can you do to help?
Kieser knows how something like this can make a difference. His daughter, Eliana, tells the Racine County Eye that he used to have a card hanging on his desk at work. The card was from a child he was assisting during an emergency. The child took the time to thank him. Kieser will never forget it.
Sending a card to the First Responders is an inexpensive and compassionate gesture. You can send cards to the South Shore Fire Department at the locations below:
- South Shore Fire Department Station 7- 1221 N Emmertsen Rd, Mt Pleasant, WI 53406
- South Shore Fire Department Station 8- 3900 Old Green Bay Rd, Mt Pleasant, WI 53406
- South Shore Fire Department Station 9– 2801 89th St, Sturtevant, WI 53177
- Caledonia/South Shore Fire Department Station 10– 9433 Northwestern Ave, Racine, WI 53406
Other ways to support firefighters:
- Pull over when driving when ambulances, fire trucks, or first responders are responding to calls
- Listen and take safety advice from firefighters, paramedics, and first responders
- Donate to organizations that support firefighters such as National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, First Responders Children Foundation
Nominate a Hero
Like Kieser, there are many Hometown Heroes in Racine County. You can read other stories, about Hometown Heroes, on the Racine County Eye, by clicking here. Nominate someone to be the next Hometown Hero of the Week by filling out this form here.