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Supervisor Max Rodriguez, Cal Fire Unit Chief Nancy Koerperich, Supervisor Rob Poythress, Assistant Chief Matt Watson, Supervisor Tom Wheeler and Supervisor David Rogers

Matt Watson Is New Assistant Fire Chief For Madera County

MADERA COUNTY – Cal Fire MMU Unit Chief Nancy Koerperich appeared before the Board of Supervisors today to officially announce the appointment of Matthew Watson to Assistant Chief of Madera County and Madera City Fire Departments. Chief Watson took over the position on Mar. 1.

Chief Watson has spent his entire career serving the citizens of the Madera-Merced-Mariposa Cal Fire Unit. He is well-familiar with MMU operations and personnel, and with the area’s residents.

At today’s ceremony, Watson had his badge pinned by District 5 Supervisor and Board Chairman Tom Wheeler. His mother did the honors when he graduated from the fire academy, and it was his wife when he became Battalion Chief. This time, he felt Tom Wheeler was the perfect person for the job.

“Tom is Chairman of the Board, and I am impressed with this board’s dedication to public safety,” says Chief Watson.

“I also have a long-term working relationship with Supervisor Wheeler, and while we’ve disagreed on methodology, we have the same common goal – making the fire department a very high priority. Also, Mr. Wheeler is someone I look up to for his work ethic; he’s one of the hardest-working people I know, and that’s what was instilled in me – to be hardworking.”

Matt Watson (center) with wife Tessa to his left, mom Lynda Espino and her husband Henry, with Madera Co. Supervisors and Cal Fire Unit Chief Nancy Koerperich

Chief Watson says there are still hurdles to overcome in bettering public safety, but with the current leadership within the Madera County Fire Department, the excellent Battalion Chiefs, and a great working relationship with Sheriff’s Office, he is confident of good progress in the years to come.

“We’re working very well together and are finding additional means to be able to help the citizens of Madera County,” says Watson.

Matt began his fire service career in 1992 as a Paid Call Firefighter (PCF) in the County of Merced at Dos Palos Wye Station 75.

In 1994, Matt officially joined Cal Fire as a Firefighter I at the Coulterville Station. He became a member of the Hazardous Materials team in 1996, and he is still a member today.

Matt was promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer (FAE) in 1999 and was assigned to the Merced Division, Hilmar Station 95. As an FAE, Matt also held temporary assignments in Training, OES, and Fire Prevention Education.

In 2004, Matt was promoted to Fire Captain at Station 81 where he participated in many programs such as DL-170 testing and Crash Rescue. He was responsible for the Merced Division Service Center and its budget. During this time he wrote a successful Office of Traffic Safety grant which provided funding for new rescue equipment.

In 2006, Matt transferred to the Coulterville Battalion, working at the Hornitos and Catheys Valley stations. He was assigned to Fire Prevention in 2007 where he was responsible for the PRC 4290 program in Mariposa County.

In 2010, Matt moved into the Pre-Fire Engineering position and was part of building the new Strategic Fire Plan for the Unit. While assigned to Fire Prevention and Pre-Fire, Matt was a member of the Safety Committee and functioned as a Safety Officer for the Unit.

In 2011, Matt was promoted to Limited Term Battalion Chief and filled the Mariposa Battalion position. Chief Watson was then moved to the new Safety Battalion position until accepting a permanent position as the Madera Valley Battalion Chief in August 2012. He remained in that position until October 2015 when he chose to move into the Administrative Battalion position to mentor under Chief David H. Allen, who retired in December 2017.

Chief Watson has worked on many assignments as the Administrative Battalion Chief overseeing training, the PCF program, grants, budgets, contracts, MOUs, and development agreements in Madera County. Most recently, in Mariposa, Chief Watson has been functioning as a Battalion Chief in the Unit’s Management Services office during a vacancy.

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