Wednesday, April 6, 2022
James Sedlmayr, 40, Durand Fire Department assistant chief and CVTC emergency services instructor, received the 2021 Wisconsin State Firefighter Association Firefighter of the Year in February.
James Sedlmayr’s skills as a firefighter kicked in on June 14, just like any other time the call for help came into the Durand Fire Department. Sedlmayr was the fire captain in charge.
“We had a really big barn structure fire … and it was our first time running our new command style,” Sedlmayr said. “There’s a lot of moving parts and pieces. It’s about managing a lot of people and a lot of equipment for about four hours.”
No one was injured, and other structures near the barn were saved. Six months later, Sedlmayr, now assistant chief, was named Durand Fire Department Firefighter of the Year for 2021. He was stunned, but not as much as when that designation led to Sedlmayr being named the 2021 Wisconsin State Firefighter Association Firefighter of the Year, recently.
“I was really blown away. I figured I was the only one nominated,” he said with a laugh. “To get any kind of award like that is truly an honor. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.”
Sedlmayr, 40, a graduate of Chippewa Valley Technical College and an adjunct emergency services instructor since 2018, said he enjoys taking what he’s learned and passing it onto younger generations.
“If I can take what I’ve learned and help these students so they don’t start at a bottom level, they come into their volunteer or career departments with firsthand knowledge of how real firefighting work is done,” Sedlmayr said. “Then I know we’ve completed our tasks and goals of leaving our fire service in a better place than what we found it.”
Mark Schwartz, CVTC Fire & EMS Continuing Education coordinator, is happy for Sedlmayr’s accomplishment.
“James is a solid instructor and is willing to help with classes when needed,” Schwartz said. “As an assistant chief within his fire department, he brings the command knowledge to the classes, which adds another layer of experience.”
Schwartz said it’s important for CVTC to bring in experienced and dedicated professionals in to teach up-and-coming emergency services professionals.
“We value all of our instructors,” he said. “They are what make our fire classes enjoyable to all the new and current firefighters who attend our training.
“Having an instructor win an award like this shows the dedication of the people we have in the classroom.”
Sedlmayr is humble about his award, which is only given to one firefighter in the state each year.
“I’ve been so thankful to have people from other fire departments come and thank me,” he said. “It’s been overwhelming. I feel privileged to receive this award.”
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