Sedgwick County recognizes departing fire chief

Curmode Courtesy photo

Sedgwick County Fire District 1 Chief Gary Curmode is departing after more than 19 years with the county to become head of a fire department in Colorado.

Commissioners recognized Curmode on Wednesday, honoring him for his service to the county since 1995.

“This is kind of a bittersweet moment,” Chairman Dave Unruh told Curmode. “In the years you’ve been here, you’ve created great leadership. We appreciate your work here.”

As is the commission’s tradition when someone leaves, Unruh talked about pop culture from 1995. “Braveheart” won best picture at the Oscars the next year.

“Were you in the movie?” Unruh asked Curmode jokingly.

Curmode said he saw the movie several times.

“I guess you weren’t in the movie,” Unruh quipped.

Curmode played for the Wichita State University men’s basketball team as a reserve guard and ran track.

He said he looked forward to acclimating to Colorado’s altitude in time to run a marathon he participated in several years ago, hoping to shave time off his last performance.

He will be chief of the Copper Mountain Fire Department.

“I’m gonna miss you. I’m going to keep you in my thoughts and prayers,” Curmode told commissioners.

Curmode, who has master’s degrees in justice and public administration from WSU, said it had been an honor to have the confidence of residents when “we’re coming out on their worst day and rendering them aid.”

Saving lives and preventing loss of property is an amazing job, said Curmode, also a 2006 Harvard Fellow in senior executives in local and state government.

“I’m going away feeling like a millionaire,” he said.