By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
There has been a firestorm of recognition for Santa Paula Firefighter Matt Klein who was honored as the Public Safety Officer/Firefighter of the Quarter at the January Good Morning Santa Paula!
Chamber of Commerce President John Chamberlain said public safety is an important component to every community and the business organization advocates honoring those who put their lives on the line.
“Matt,” said Fire Chief Rick Araiza, “is just finishing up being named Co-Firefighter of the Year with Andy VanSciver,” the last chamber Firefighter of the Quarter honoree.
“Matt and Andy are real movers and shakers of our fire department,” especially notable said Araiza because both are reserves.
“Matt is just coming off full-time,” filling in for a firefighter, a position Klein knew would be temporary but nevertheless rearranged his regular work schedule to accommodate.
Klein has been with the SPFD for more than seven years and during that time, “Actually stepped up several times to be a seasonal firefighter,” retained for optimum response during highly dangerous fire seasons.
Araiza said Klein is also in charge of the SPFD Reserves training program and active with the Santa Paula Firefighters Association.
“You probably see him there the most...every barbeque there Matt is. I don’t know how many pieces of chicken he’s barbecued,” for meals that have benefited the community and youth programs by raising more than $80,000.
Araiza said Klein is “Not only helping the Santa Paula Fire Department but other organizations with the city,” as a volunteer traveling from his Simi Valley home for such fundraisers.
And work: “Matt is the first one to say ‘I’m available, I’ll be in,’ when we need someone to cover shifts,” just one of the reasons Araiza said “Before long we’ll hire him full-time...”
Klein said he did not expect to be selected Firefighter of the Year-the second time he had garnered the honor from his SPFD peers-or Public Safety Officer of the Quarter.
“It’s a huge honor,” and one that means much to him.
“The fire department is my second family...I have developed relationships,” with other firefighters and the community.
“I’m surrounded by excellent firefighters and leadership,” and said Klein, “it makes me want to step up and do the best I can,” at a department he would like to serve until retirement.