Matthews considers herself a go-getter, somebody who gets things done. Those are valuable assets for a chief, but she was not about to lead a department without firefighting training. She has completed a two-day defensive firefighting training course, a basic defensive fire instructor course, training on the incident command system (ICS), and the fire department operations course. She continues to expand her training and qualifications, including a two-day session this past weekend in Springdale.
“If I am going to send my team out to fight a fire, if I am not skilled enough to do it, then I would not want to put them in danger as well,” she said. “I will only send them out if I think it is safe enough for me to go.”
Matthews acknowledges some of the training has been difficult, but she shows no signs of backing down. She may not be able to match some of the men in strength, she said, but it would be tough to find an equal in determination.
“Some people may say leave that to the men, because we are not strong enough to do it, but I believe anybody can do anything they put their mind to,” she said.
“If you can throw on a 30pound bunker suit, with a 30pound breathing apparatus, and climb 40-feet up a ladder to haul somebody out through a burning building, I can do the same.”
As far as her leadership abilities, Matthews is a nononsense type of chief. She said she pushes members to complete and maintain their training. She stresses the importance of being professionals, she said, and that firefighters are not part of a social club.
“I am very proud,” she said. “If I can make a difference for one person, that is a happy day.
Springdale firefighter and provincial fire prevention officer Everett Pitts recently attended the Pacquet Volunteer Fire Department’s fire prevention night. He is pictured here with Firettes Daphne Bowers, left, and Eunice Gillingham.