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2022 Firefighter of the Year

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A vital and active community member in the City of Durand and Pepin County for 16 years, Captain James Sedlmayr of the Durand FD exemplifies what it truly means to be a community servant. 

“As a Captain on the Durand Fire Department, he always makes sound decisions and has the complete trust of those in his charge” said Matt Roesler, Chief Deputy of the Pepin County Sherriff’s office.

James is a strong leader and a person to look up to on the department. Always putting the safety of his guys first, he has the respect of all his fellow firefighters. 

James is a strengths-based leader who is always pushing those around him to improve. It is his empathetic abilities that set him above most. James has a remarkable understanding of the emotional side of emergency management and the toll incidents take on staff and community members alike. “He is typically the first Firefighter to circle around and check in with his fellow firefighters after a tough call making sure everyone is emotionally okay and if not, he connects them to peer support. James exudes compassion in everything he involves himself in.” said Chief Deputy Roesler.

Just last fall he showed these exemplary skills at a barn fire where he was tasked with being in command being that it was a midday fire, and all chiefs were out of town. He orchestrated the scene with precise coordination with 5 other departments. The amount of heat coming off the barn was melting the siding on the house, and he recognized that immediately and made sure that they got into a position to protect it. His actions that day saved the property, and with his attention to detail ensured a safe scene.

Not only is he a strong asset on the fire scene he is an even bigger asset at the station.

Besides his officer duties James has been the Fire Relief Association's treasurer for years. He was also a vital part in forming the 501C3 4 years ago and spent countless hours switching all the accounts and monies over to the Durand Fire Relief Association(501C3).

He writes and receives valuable grants for the rural department. These grants help purchase equipment that helps to keep his fellow firefighters safe. 
Last fall James also volunteered himself and all his spare time stepping in as the chairman of the Ladder truck committee. This is a task that came with a huge load on his shoulders. Going into this he knew that it was going to be a committee that would be working diligently for over a year to make sure that the truck would be built to the department’s specific needs. 

He has overseen the department “Sunshine Committee” for countless years. He feels that everyone in the community should have someone looking out for them. He makes sure that when retired firefighters pass on that they get the full support of the fire department because to James there are no retirees, they are always part of the Durand Fire Family.

James took his fire career to the next level a few years ago becoming a certified fire instructor for the State of Wisconsin. James has a strong passion for teaching our upcoming brothers and sisters at Chippewa Valley Technical College. 

“The most valuable asset of Captain Sedlmayr is his commitment to his community.” Chief Stanley Ridgeway of the Durand PD said. “You will not find a person who is more compassionate towards his fellow citizens.”

“James’ face is very familiar around our community,” said Durand FD Chief Jamey King. “He takes great pride in owning and working as the Funeral Director at Rhiel’s Funeral Home. He also volunteers much of his time and expertise to the Durand Lions Club, Durand Area Youth Foot-ball, Durand Sportsman’s Club, and his church.” 

Captain Sedlmayr is most deserving of this award. Not only because of his work within the fire department but also his work outside.

Captain Sedlmayr is married and has two children. During his free time, he enjoys spending time in the area he grew up hunting and fishing.  He and his dad are avid Indy car racing fans. Together they attend the Indy 500 every year, with this Memorial Day weekend being Sedlmayr’s 26th race and his father’s 52nd. The tradition continues with his son now also attending the race each year.