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CPUD board hears about fire reorganization; new chief

By Gregg Scott

Staff Writer

Matthew Balzarini is the new Fire Chief for the Chester Fire Department. Photo by Gregg Scott

The January meeting of the Chester Public Utility District Board of Directors was what most residents would call quite routine.  With four or five local residents and some district employees in attendance, the agenda was fairly short and took just over an hour and a half to complete. Most of the admin reports — financial, equipment and facility — have gotten better over the past few months with the exception of the ambulances. Both units have been non-operational for a period of time due to a lack of maintenance in the past. The newer one (10 years old)  should be back in service very shortly. In the meantime the district has made arrangements to use a “loaner” to ensure regular local coverage.

The Fire Department has had a new Fire Chief in place for the past two plus months. His name is Matthew Balzarini and he is quite excited about helping the department bring back a sense of professionalism and pride to the department. His opening statement to the board in his report was, “When you hired me for this position, you promised me that it would be a challenge. You have delivered!”

A synopsis of Balzarini’s background would include that he always wanted to be a firefighter. He comes from three generations of firefighters and as a teen he became the chief of his Fire Explorer Post.  Circumstances led him to join the San Francisco Police Department in 2000 while still hoping to join a fire department. In 2012 that opportunity presented itself and he joined the San Francisco Fire Department where he worked his way up to Lieutenant.  At different times he has served as interim chief and helped several other departments reorganize. He is working on a part-time basis at this time and completes some of his administrative work by computer at home. He is married and has three grown children.

Balzarini said that his first priorities are to properly man the department with trained personnel with an emphasis on training and professionalism.  He believes that there is an identity and culture in firefighting that can enhance the department as a whole and lead to superior performance and pride in the individual firefighter. That is an ultimate goal.  The current staff right now consists of: four full time, one temporary, two part-time per diems and three in training that should be joining up soon.

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