11-30-2017 North Berrien Fire Chief makes Coloma home; Coloma tables ordinance officer discussion un

North Berrien Fire Chief makes Coloma home

By Annette Christie

North Berrien Fire Chief Michael Mattix, who started with the fire department in August, has demonstrated seriousness and dedication to his new job. He moved for the first time ever out of his hometown.  Mattix was still living out of boxes when he sat down to talk about his new position.

Mattix started as North Berrien’s newest fire chief on August 7, 2017. He comes to this area after working for 32 years for the City of Dowagiac in their fire department.   At that department he was a captain and its Operations Officer.

Mattix shares that he really didn’t think about becoming a firefighter, despite it being the career of his father. He thought radio would be a better fit.  He had dabbled in radio as a high school student in Dowagiac and filled in as an on-air personality. This was where he thought life would take him.

But he tells the story of how his father put firefighting in a term that made sense to him.  Newly married, his father presented the idea that as an on-call firefighter he could make enough to pay his car insurance every six months. Giving his father, who was a firefighter for 33 years with 17 years as a chief, the benefit of the doubt, he signed on while still maintaining a full-time job.  In August of 1985 he became an on-call firefighter.

Over the years of service, he worked up the ranks. In January of 1998 he was hired full time by the City of Dowagiac.  He received his necessary training for firefighting as well as holding a basic EMT license.  Mattix is also a State Certified Instructor as well as an Emergency Driving Training Instructor.

Since he became a firefighter in 1985, Mattix talks about how firefighting has changed.  “While the number of fires has decreased over time nationally, the severity of fires has increased,” Mattix said adding, “The speed that a fire builds now is a lot faster than before.”   Mattix said that building materials and home contents contribute to this factor.

At the North Berrien Fire Rescue Department, Mattix hopes to establish a good set of policies and guidelines that build on what the department had prior.  He describes guidelines as how you do something with policies being doing something this way every time no matter what.  He gave an example of the uniform and how it is worn as being a policy.

He complimented the North Berrien Fire Board saying that they told him they want him to succeed and asked what tools where needed. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. They are very welcoming,” Mattix said.  He spoke the same of the community members that he has met.  Newly on the job, Mattix made it a point to go out into the community, to introduce himself and provide his contact information.  “Overall, this is what it is about. I work for everyone in our coverage area,” Mattix said. That is what he will use to guide him as he moves forward in the position.  “What is best for the people we serve?” Mattix said.

Of the North Berrien Fire Department members, Mattix said they are very dedicated and that they see to it the work that needs to be completed is done.

He complimented the previous management and the municipalities in getting a vehicle millage in place to address their current and future equipment needs.  “There was a lot of good forethought put into the public millage for the fleet,” Mattix said.

Mattix and his wife Tracy have been married for 33 years.  The high school sweethearts have three daughters and three grandchildren.  They are making their home in the City of Coloma.  “We couldn’t have asked for a better place to come,” Mattix said of the community.

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