Firefighter and train enthusiast retires after long career

By Betsy Levinson
January 26, 2023

After a 47-year career with the Concord Fire Department, Capt. Dave Curran retired at the end of his last 24-hour shift last Friday winding up with an 8 a.m. breakfast in the fire station with all the guys.

Curran, a lifelong Concord resident, will be able to devote more time to his other two hobbies: trains and racecars. He has a room built for his model train set at his house, a man cave under his family room.

Curran said he wanted to work for the railroad after graduating from Concord-Carlisle High School. 

“I got two acceptance letters on the same day,” he said, one for a full-time job with the Concord Fire Department and the other to engineering school at the Burlington North Railroad in Wyoming.

“I chose to go a mile down the road rather than halfway across the country,” said Curran.

His uncle worked in the Fire Department, his mother worked at the high school and his dad was transportation manager at the school.

“I came with the town,” he joshed. He considers the fire stations on Walden and Main streets his second home.

He said Concord is complex from an emergency management perspective.

“It’s a city in the country,” he said. The town has a hospital, a major highway, two train stations, an airport, a superfund site, four private schools, five nursing or assisted living places and two prisons.

“It makes the job in this town unique,” he said.

Fire Chief Tom Judge lauded Curran’s service, saying he will be “greatly missed.”

“Dave has had a long and successful career,” said Judge. “He’s a great guy to work with and has a ton of knowledge.” 

Judge said in the 1980s, there were approximately 1,200 calls to the department in a year; this year there were 4,000. It’s not unusual to have 20 calls a day, he said. 

Indeed, Curran’s knowledge of trains has come in handy. At one point, he was on the scene at a train accident in West Concord where the conductor didn’t know how to use the emergency flares, or glow sticks, on the engine.

“I had to show him where the glow sticks were,” said Curran.

The work is always a challenge, he said. “We train all the time. We’re never not learning.”

In the late 1980s, the hazmat system debuted statewide and Curran was an “early adopter,” Judge said.

Curran’s keen interest in NASCAR driving has taken him to some of the most popular racing venues in the country where he serves on the pit crew.

“I’m sad and happy at the same time,” said Curran amid his final shift in a career that began in 1976.