BELOIT — The Beloit Fire Department bid one of their own a happy retirement after more than 28 years of service.
Assistant Chief Tim Curtis retired Friday after 28 years, four months and four days serving as a firefighter, relief motor pump operator, motor pump operator, fire investigator, paramedic, acting lieutenant, deputy chief and assistant fire chief. The Beloit Firefighters Local 583 hosted a luncheon for Curtis, who said he was proud of the progress he has seen in the department during his tenure.
"Our fire training, technical rescue, tactical teams and even cooperation with S.W.A.T. has improved," Curtis said. "We have grown a lot in the 28 years I have been here."
As Curtis made his way through the halls on his final day of service, many stopped to offer a hug and thank him for advice and meaningful conversations over the years.
"The proudest thing I have tried to do is to mentor people and improve their careers," Curtis said. "To prepare them to be leaders now and in the future."
Curtis said the thing he will miss most is the camaraderie and friendship with his fellow firefighters.
"The situations we are in draw us closer together. We see a lot of bad but a lot of good as well," Curtis said.
Curtis started with the South Beloit Fire Department when he was 18 years old. He then joined the Beloit Fire Department in September 1988. Over his career, he was designated an executive fire officer by the U.S. Fire Administration and also received a chief fire officer designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE).
Beloit Fire Chief Brad Liggett said he will miss Curtis for his critical thinking and leadership skills in the line of duty, as the two served together for nearly the entirety of Curtis' time with the department.
"Tim has an incredible amount of experience and knowledge of the department. Although I am his supervisor, I view him more as an equal," Liggett said. "He has had a strong connection with our troops, exemplified by his role in honor guard, training programs and budget and personnel issues."
While one Curtis moves on, another could be joining the department by the end of the month. Tim's son, Tyler Curtis, 29, is one of three candidates who could be recommended for hiring at a Monday Police and Fire Commission hearing. The younger Curtis said it was surreal to see his father moving on from the only job he has ever had.
"My dad has quite the drive, now I have someone to follow," Tyler Curtis said. "I have been watching him all these years. It is a dream come true."
Tyler Curtis said he decided 15 years ago to be a firefighter, and believes he will have big shoes to fill if he is brought aboard.
"I will be my own person, but I will keep our legacy in mind for sure," Tyler Curtis said.
"On occasion, sons and daughters will follow in the footsteps of their family members after being exposed to this lifestyle," Liggett said. "When that occurs, it is a special thing, because typically those individuals carry on a legacy of work ethic and integrity in the department, which has a positive impact on the community."