Santa Paula Firefighters (l-r) Matt Klein and Andy VanSciver were honored as the 2013 Firefighters of the Year at the December 18 Santa Paula Fire Department’s Christmas celebration. Both Klein and VanSciver have been honored in the past with the Spud’s highest award.

SPFD: Honors all over again for Firefighters of the Year Klein, VanSciver

January 10, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

It was honors all over again for Santa Paula Firefighters Matt Klein and Andy VanSciver, both recognized as the 2013 Firefighters of the Year at the department’s recent Christmas celebration.

Following remarks by Mayor Rick Cook, who wished all a happy holiday, Fire Chief Rick Araiza said when it came to selecting the Firefighter of the Year by their department peers, Klein and VanSciver tied.

“So we had two finalists and decided to have a run off,” a move that Araiza said did not change the outcome of the vote.

“Each had the exact same score the first time and then when firefighters voted again it stuck, both Andy and Matt had the exact same number of votes. 

“So it was decided to give the Firefighter of the Year Award to both of them because they both certainly deserve it!”

Klein noted he has been with the SPFD for about seven years: “I’m very happy to be here, I consider many of you my second family and I look forward to retiring here...”

“I can’t thank you enough,” said VanSciver, a Reserve. 

“I find this so much fun, I just love working with the Santa Paula Fire Department!” 

Klein was selected Firefighter of the Year in 2007 for his dedication to the department and ability to do the work no matter what the chore.

The good natured Klein is known for having an upbeat attitude that rubs off on other firefighters he works shifts with...and that’s a lot of shifts as Klein is known for volunteering to come in and cover for absent firefighters where and when needed.

Klein received an AA Degree in Fire Science from Valley College in 2003; he has also served as a “Set Medic” for the film industry and as a volunteer Explorer for LA City Fire Department.

Becoming a firefighter was a lifelong dream for this “Valley Boy” who grew up in the Sherman Oaks area of the San Fernando Valley. 

Following the awards ceremony Araiza said, “Matt is one of the most unselfish firefighters I have met, always totally devoted to the department and what is best for the community. From Day One he has filled in extra shifts so that the city is never without coverage. He’s a real asset to the department and Santa Paula.”

When in 2008 Klein picked up his Kiwanis Club Firefighter of the Year Award he had company, VanSciver who was being honored for being a Good Samaritan who responded to a fire in his Oaks neighborhood.

Soon VanSciver, who somehow had been passed over to be a SPFD Reserve, had joined the ranks and although he remains a Reserve he has become an essential component of the SPFD.

So much in fact that VanSciver, nicknamed Radar for his uncanny ability to come up with whatever the SPFD needs, has been honored before: Araiza said VanSciver “Is an extremely special individual. I can’t even begin to tell you everything he does on a daily basis, and because of that our firefighters have voted for him to be Firefighter of the Year” for the third consecutive year.

“What is so unique about Andy is that he is also publisher of Fire Chief magazine,” and knows many in the nation involved in the fire service. 

VanSciver has served as President of the Firefighters Association and has overseen numerous fundraisers for groups that in turn benefit the community, specifically youth groups such as Santa Paula High School Band and Future Farmers of America; the association also helped raise funding for the Military Banner Program.

VanSciver also handles police and fire communications for the city as well as Ventura County. 

In addition, VanSciver has helped with grants, as has his wife, Marleen Canniff, who obtained more than a million dollars for the SPFD just in grants alone.

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