Jupiter's First Fire Chief, Darrel Donatto, a Legacy of Leadership in Firefighting
On January 8, 2024, Darrel Donatto, a veteran firefighter and leader with nearly 43 years of experience, was named the Town of Jupiter’s first Fire Chief. On January 31, 2024, he took the official Oath of Office in a ceremony held at the Town of Jupiter Community Center.
Pioneering the Establishment of Jupiter's Fire Department
As Jupiter’s first Fire Chief, Donatto will be tasked with building a world class fire department from the ground up, including hiring personnel and building fire stations, for the launch of the new department on October 1, 2026.
As we continue on the historic journey of establishing Jupiter’s first-ever fire department, the significance of hiring someone with Darrel’s commitment to excellence and extensive experience cannot be emphasized enough,” said Town Manager Frank Kitzerow in announcing the hire. “His commitment to service and expertise in building a world-class fire department as well as the relationships he has throughout the state of Florida will benefit our Town, residents, businesses and visitors as we establish the department and begin to provide service on October 1, 2026.
A Decades-Long Journey in Fire Service
Donatto joins the Town of Jupiter after a 20-year career with the Town of Palm Beach Fire Rescue Department, including the last five years as the Fire Rescue Chief and Director of Emergency Management. In this role, Donatto oversaw a staff of 80 personnel spread across three fire stations. He is noted for building a bond between the community and the fire department that led to increased fire fighter retention and levels of service.
Achievements and Recognition
In 2015, his leadership efforts led the Palm Beach Fire Rescue Department to achieve an ISO Class 1 rating, the highest possible rating bestowed upon a department by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) in recognition of the department’s ability to protect the community it serves. This ranking placed the Town of Palm Beach Fire Rescue Department among the Top 1% of fire departments in the nation.
Donatto’s efforts at leading the Palm Beach Fire Rescue Department brought personal accolades in addition to department honors. In 2016, he was named the Florida Fire Chief’s Association Fire Chief of the Year, an honor he also received from the State of Florida, State Fire Marshall’s Office in 2017. He also earned the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs Fire Chief of the Year recognition in 2017 and has been honored with EMS Lifetime Achievement Award from the Palm Beach County EMS Providers Association.
Involvement with Florida Fire Chiefs' Association
Donatto has also been highly involved with the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association. In his time with the Association, Donatto has served as the chair for both the EMS Committee and Government Relations Committee while also serving as the Regional Director, Secretary/Treasurer, 2nd Vice President, 1st Vice President and President in 2019-20. He remains active with the organization and leads the legislative and rule promulgation efforts today. Donatto also works closely with the State of Florida EMS office on behalf of fire fighters and EMS personnel across Florida. His work on these committees earned him a Florida League of Cities Home Rule Hero Award in both 2022 and 2023.
Donatto also serves as the current Chair of the Board of Directors for St. Mary’s Medical Center and is on the Board of Directors of The Oasis Project of South Florida, a non-profit that serves foster and adoptive families.
Educational Background and Career Progression
Donatto began his career with the Town of Palm Beach as a Battalion Chief in 2004 and oversaw three fire stations and 24 uniformed personnel. He was promoted to Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services in 2008 and to Deputy Chief in 2011.
Prior to the Town of Palm Beach, Donatto spent 23 years with the Riviera Beach Fire Rescue Department. He began his career as a fire fighter and paramedic in 1981 and also held the roles of Driver Engineer, Lieutenant, Division Chief of EMS and Deputy Fire Chief.
Donatto holds a Master of Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University and a Bachelors in Organizational Leadership from Mountain State University, in addition to Associate’s degrees in Emergency Medical Services and Fire Science Technology from Palm Beach State College.
Message from Darrel Donatto
Watch Chief Donatto take the official Oath of Office
Wednesday, January 31, 10:00 AM
- What process did the Town of Jupiter follow in deciding to start the Jupiter Fire Rescue Department?
- Are Palm Beach County fire fighters and union members contracted with the Town of Jupiter?
- How long will it take for the Town to build its fire rescue department?
- Will PBCFR continue to provide service to Jupiter residents while the JFRD is formed?
- Will residents be paying double while PBCFR is providing service during the 3 years it takes to create the JFRD?
- What is the anticipated cost of fire rescue services if the Town maintains its agreement with PBCFR?
- What is the anticipated cost of fire rescue services if the Town forms its own department?
- Will the Jupiter taxpayer see a reduction in their tax bill when the JFRD begins operations in 2026?
- What is the anticipated size of a JFRD?
- Will it be difficult to recruit personnel for the JFRD?