Mayor Malik Announces Planned Retirement of Fire Chief Joseph Natko

Chief Natko will take on a new role in the administration following his retirement  

Akron, Ohio, March 4, 2024  — Today, Akron Mayor Shammas Malik announced the planned retirement of Akron Fire Chief Joseph Natko after 33 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Akron. Natko’s last day as Chief will be March 22, 2024. Following Natko’s retirement, he will be taking on a new appointed role in the administration as Assistant to the Mayor for Emergency Management. The city will conduct an internal search for the next Chief of the Akron Fire Department and Deputy Chief Steven Kaut will serve as Acting Chief during the search period.  

I want to thank Chief Natko for his exemplary career with the Akron Fire Department,” said Mayor Malik. “I’m pleased he has agreed to stay on in a new capacity with the administration focusing on planning for the unexpected, from natural disasters, to pandemics, to mass shootings, and beyond. His experience in this field will be invaluable and will better prepare the city for any and all emergency situations.”   

“Serving the residents of Akron has been the honor of my professional lifetime,” said Chief Natko. “The men and women of the Akron Fire Department are outstanding public servants and it’s been such a privilege to lead them as Chief the last several years. I look forward to taking on the new role of Assistant to the Mayor for Emergency Management and working alongside both Akron Fire and Akron Police as we create and fortify emergency management policies and procedures within the city.”  

Chief Natko first began his career with the Akron Fire Department (AFD) in March of 1991 as a firefighter/medic. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1997, Captain in 2005, Provisional District Chief in 2011, District Chief in 2015, Deputy Chief in 2022, and later in 2022 took on the top job of Akron Fire Chief. He holds an Associate’s Degree of Technical Studies from the University of Akron and earned his Ohio Fire Executive certification in 2014.   

During his career, Chief Natko initiated and managed several programs at AFD including: Electronic Patient Care Reporting Program (EPCR), Opiate Quick Response Team (QRT), Alternate Response Vehicle (non-emergent ambulance), PulsePoint (civilian CPR alerts), REACH (community paramedicine), ET3 (Telehealth), and Health Data Exchange (HDE). He’s also a proud graduate of Leadership Akron Class 35.  Chief Natko has been a lifelong resident in the Akron area and is married to his wife Melissa with three adult children and two grandchildren. 

Deputy Chief Steven Kaut has proudly served the citizens of Akron as a member of the Akron Fire Department for over 31 years. Kaut is a life-long resident of Akron. He was educated through the Akron Public School System and received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Akron. Over his career, he has worked as a firefighter, paramedic, and company officer before accepting an assignment to Fire Administration in 2016. He currently holds the rank of Deputy Chief and is responsible for oversight of the fire department’s Emergency Medical Service Bureau, Special Operations Bureau, and the Finance & Administrative Bureau. Prior to his appointment to Deputy Chief, he managed the Finance & Administration Bureau in which he oversaw fire division activities including human resources, payroll, purchasing, grants, and budgeting. In addition to his role with the Akron Fire Department, Kaut has served as the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of the Glendale Cemetery for the past 17 years. Steven Kaut and his wife Maryann, continue to reside in Akron and are the proud parents of two adult children. 

“I’m grateful that Deputy Chief Kaut has agreed to take on the role of Acting Chief while we conduct a thorough search for the next permanent Chief,” said Mayor Malik. “Deputy Chief Kaut has the experience, knowledge, and commitment to service to successfully lead this department during this search period and his leadership will ensure continuity of service to our residents.”  

“I’m honored to take on the role of Acting Chief of the Akron Fire Department,” said Deputy Chief Kaut. “As a lifelong Akron resident, serving the residents of this community alongside the fantastic men and women of this department is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. My goal will be to lead an efficient department and continue make the city a safe place for our residents and visitors.”  

Stephanie Marsh, Director of Communications or 330-256-1191