BUXTON — Michael Kucsma, who died of a heart attack while scuba diving Monday, was devoted to his work in the fire service. But when his visiting hours are held Friday at a funeral home in Portland, he won’t be wearing a uniform. He’ll be decked out in his favorite Hawaiian shirt.

“Part of my job is to make sure the whole person is represented,” his wife, Marcia Kucsma, said Wednesday at their home in Buxton. Her husband was passionate about his work and about his leisure, she said, whether it was fishing, traveling or, most recently, raising chickens.

Kucsma, 43, was a deputy chief for the Gorham Fire Department and a captain on Engine 6 in Portland. He suffered a heart attack while diving with friends off the shore near Tukey’s Bridge.

The heart attack was related to a blockage in the blood vessels supplying the heart because of coronary artery disease, the state Medical Examiner’s Office said after an autopsy Wednesday.

In a news release Wednesday evening, the Portland Fire Department said it is working with the Gorham Fire Department and union officials to make “preliminary required reports regarding (a) public safety officer’s death in the line of duty. The public safety officer’s line of duty death benefit provides certain benefits to survivors if the … death meets certain specific criteria.”

Kucsma responded to an emergency call in Gorham earlier Monday, the fire department said in its release.

“While this will never bring Mike back, if approved, this (benefit) will provide some security to his family,” Portland Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria said in the release about the one-time federal death benefit for first responders.

Friends said Kucsma was methodical and cautious, and he would have taken the necessary safety precautions while scuba diving, which he took up about a year ago with his wife.

The couple traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, enjoying the local cuisine and absorbing the way of life, she said. “It’s the laid-back culture. Island time … ‘No problem, mon,’ ” she said.

Their love of that leisurely culture contrasted with their work ethic.

Kucsma worked full time in the Portland Fire Department and part time in Gorham, and took on overtime shifts as the couple prepared for a vacation. Marcia Kucsma is a nurse with Prudential Life Insurance who also works nursing shifts at Mercy Hospital.

“Quadruple income, no kids,” she said. “We worked hard and we played hard.”

The two met in 1998 when he, then a lieutenant with Gorham’s fire department, and she, an emergency medical technician for the town, took a class on using automated external defibrillators. They fit each other well.

Marcia was a first responder and had grown up in a firefighting family, with her mother pumping water and her father handling a hose line.

What attracted her to Kucsma were his “blue eyes and baby face,” she said, and how much he liked her.

Whether at home or on one of their excursions to the Caribbean – marked by red stars on a map pinned to a wall in their house – Michael Kucsma was outgoing and easy to like.

“He’d make a new friend at the grocery store,” she said. “He’d talk to anybody. We’d meet people while we were traveling and would have good friends in a week.”

Kucsma grew up in Alfred and, even as a youngster, was drawn to the fire service.

“From the age of maybe 3 years old, it was fireman,” said his mother, Jane Longchamps.

He was a good kid, she said. When she checked on him at bedtime, he would be under his blanket with a flashlight, reading the World Book encyclopedia.

He attended Massabesic High School, playing tennis, golf, football and hockey, his favorite sport. He played in a youth hockey league because the school didn’t have a team at the time. He even built a rink next to their house, said his father, Michael Kucsma Sr.

“He wouldn’t spend a lot of time on his homework, but that was well-groomed ice,” he said.

Kucsma and his friends started a Wiffle Ball league, complete with a miniature Fenway Park. The group still gets together, his father said.

At the University of Southern Maine, Kucsma majored in political science, and as a student became one of the first two live-in firefighters in an innovative Gorham program. In exchange for a place to stay, college students provide overnight coverage for the fire department and respond to calls.

“For a parent of a college-age student, what a relief. I knew where he was from 7 at night until 7 in the morning,” said Michael Kucsma Sr.

Kucsma tried law enforcement, working as a reserve officer in Old Orchard Beach and Gorham, but decided the fire service suited him better.

His devotion to firefighting ran deep, and he took training seriously. The state fire training service adopted a regimen he developed in Gorham for rescuing firefighters trapped in a burning building, co-workers said.

He also was a strong advocate for safety, pushing early on for firefighters to wear seat belts while riding in their trucks.

Kucsma’s approach to firefighting and training was a byproduct of his personality – methodical and thorough. Even when he was fishing, the hobby he liked most, he wasn’t content to just sit back and watch his line.

“He was tying flies, doing the rigging, trying to find the best way to catch a fish,” his wife said. And he invariably released what he caught, in the interest of preserving the resource.

Marcia Kucsma said she and her husband were far from impulsive. Usually.

“We normally have our lives planned for the next 18 months,” she said. They broke that rule recently.

“He wanted a pool. I said, ‘You can have chickens.’ Saturday, we went out and bought chickens,” she said.

Kucsma’s funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. Visiting hours will be 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St. in Portland.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: @Mainehenchman