After 44 years with the Garden City Fire Department and 37 as its chief, Fire Chief Allen Shelton is planning to retire from the department on July 1.

“I am very grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to serve this department and community for the past 44 years,” Shelton said in a press release from the City of Garden City. “I am looking forward to having more time with my family, friends, travel and pursuing my interest in our community and faith-based projects. Garden City is a great place to work and live.”

Before being named the department’s first career fire chief in 1984, Shelton worked at the GCFD as a volunteer firefighter, volunteer assistant chief and volunteer fire chief for the then all-volunteer department.

During his time as fire chief, the department has grown from one full-time employee to 38 paid employees, including three battalion chiefs, a fire marshal, six lieutenants, 26 firefighters and an administrative assistant.

Shelton has been a member of numerous committees and associations and served on various boards, according to the city's release. He’s worked with Garden City Community College to enhance the college’s fire science curriculum and provide technical and leadership training to department staff.

In October 2018, he was named Fire Chief of the Year by the Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs.

“It’s hard to imagine a Garden City Fire Department without Chief Shelton,” City Manager Matt Allen stated in the release. “Chief has devoted his entire professional career to transforming a volunteer fire department into a predominantly full-time department that has the personnel, equipment, and training capable of serving a growing city.”

According to the release, the city will begin searching for a new chief this summer.