Raised in Crowsnest Pass, and having spent time away from the area as a young adult, Lt. Matthew Peterson has returned to make Pincher Creek his latest home base.
A former newspaper reporter and editor in British Columbia., the volunteer officer switched careers about 10 years ago to try his hand at mining near where he grew up.
“I actually started my emergency services training through the mine with the mine rescue program,” Matthew says. “I really liked the training. I really liked the things we were doing, so I decided to join the local fire department in Crowsnest Pass.”
When the family decided to move to Pincher Creek, Matthew approached fire Chief Pat Neumann to ask if he could become a lieutenant, a rank he had in Crowsnest Pass.
“So, I came over here and worked my way up, got to know everybody in the area and the people,” he says. “It’s been a good fit.”
“It’s a huge sacrifice that all the members make, having our families and commitments, our day jobs … to be able to put those things aside,” he says. “At times, we have to leave the family dinner, leave the family outing.”
It’s a decision he’s glad he made years ago, but it does come with an added responsibility.
“You know, some of the guys might like to go out for a few beers after work, but you have to make a conscious choice, where that’s not an option, where I want to be on call for my community if they need me.”
Matthew’s favourite part about the role is the training that’s provided.
“A lot of really cool things you get to learn, a lot of really good stuff,” he says. “Just being able to use those skills when you go out on calls, it’s huge … and it’s needed.”
And, what kid wouldn’t want to grow up driving a real fire truck?
Unlike some volunteer opportunities where there might be requirements going in, all the training is provided by the department at no cost to the firefighter. But having transferable skills certainly doesn’t hurt.
“In my case, I had my industrial first aid ticket and, of course, my mine rescue training,” Matthew says.
Is being a volunteer firefighter something he’d recommend to a friend or someone in the community? Absolutely!
“I mean, you see those big TV shows like Chicago Fire and such, but in reality it’s us. It’s the people next door, it’s your auto mechanic, it’s your coal miner, that are going to be coming to help you at the end of the day.”
Thank you, Matthew, and to all our firefighters for being there!