For her entire adult life she’s lived by one simple mantra, “Work hard and someday you’ll be chief.”
Monday, that dream came to fruition for Fire Chief Diana Matty city when the city commission confirmed Matty as fire chief. She received a standing ovation from about 60 members from the fire department.
Matty was serving as fire chief on an interim bases after then Fire Chief Dan Hanes left the department.
Matty joins four other females holding high office in West Palm Beach. There is a female mayor and three top department heads all are female.
Matty, whose been working in fire rescue since she 18 years of age … right out of high school, says the promotion is about much more than being the “first.”
“To me, it’s not about being the first anything — it’s about leading the best fire department in the nation,” she tells the Palm Beach Post.
Matty is a longtime high-level member of the department, which has 214 employees and annual budget of nearly $36 million, the second-largest budget of any city department behind the police department, which has an annual budget of $57 million, according to the Post.
She tells the Post that times have changed since her early days.
“In 1994, the department was responding to 15,000 to 16,000 calls a year. Now it’s up to 25,000 to 28,000 and the department and the technology it deploys have changed considerably,” she said.
Evolving to meet modern challenges, Matty tells the Post she wants to focus on finding creative and strategic ways to increase the department’s community outreach while maintaining the department’s standards.
“We gotta think big picture, and what we can do down the line,” she said.
ABOUT THE CHIEF
Born in Hialeah, raised in the Florida Keys, Matty went to high school in Pembroke Pines before joining the department as a firefighter. She got her emergency medical technician license, then her paramedic license. In 2002 she became a lieutenant; in 2005, a captain; in 2012, a battalion chief; and in 2015, assistant chief in charge of emergency operations, among other responsibilities.
The Post reports that along the way she earned an associates degree from Palm Beach State College; and bachelor’s in fire and emergency services and a graduate certificate in emergency management, both from the University of Florida.
According to the Post, Chief Matty has traveled the country as a fire-service instructor for various organizations. She’s also a master HAZMAT instructor and has traveled to teach in New York City, New Orleans, Seattle, among many other cities.
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