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Two Bloomington Fire Department Firefighters Retire After 35 Years Of Service
Updated February 12, 2015 6:46 AM | Filed under: Fire
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fred matthews.jpg
Fred Matthews
mark webb.jpg
Mark Webb

(BLOOMINGTON) - Bloomington firefighters Fred Matthews and Mark Webb will be retiring from the Bloomington Fire Department after more than 30 years of service on Feb. 16, the day before the 115th year anniversary of the Bloomington Fire Department.

Matthews, retiring as a captain for 19 years, has been at the BFD for a total of 35 years since May 14, 1979. Webb, retiring as battalion chief for 17 years, has been at the BFD for a total of 36 years. Matthews said, "you can't beat the public service and that satisfaction and gratification when you know that you have helped someone. People look to you for your help and support. You truly do help people, which is the most satisfying thing." Webb added, "this position has allowed me to provide well for my family over the years. It is an honorable profession, and I would not have done anything else. I am proud to have been a part of this profession."

The two firefighters have worked together for over 30 years. Matthews and Webb recall the Z.B.T. fraternity house fire in 1984 during IU's Homecoming, where they each went in different doors to find a person missing in the fire. Matthews had found the young man and it was also Matthews' first fire.

The Bloomington Fire Department has also undergone many changes over the years. Matthews said that technology and fire science are the biggest changes. "You used to never have an air pack on when you went into a fire. Now you don't go in without one," said Matthews. Webb agreed that technology was a major change as well the growing emphasis on education and safety. Webb added, "when you first came on, you did not wear breathing masks. Gear wasn't as protective as it is now and there was not a whole lot of organization or fire command. Before, we had rubber gloves in fires. Now, we have leather gloves."

Both Matthews and Webb spent most of their years at the main Bloomington Fire Department Headquarters and worked for four mayors and seven fire chiefs. They spent one third of their time at the department, working the 4th of July, Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve. Webb stated, "when you get to the state of our careers, the extra benefit and satisfaction we have is that we have seen a lot and done a lot. We get new hires in and watch them get an achievement, which is also satisfying. It is about taking your experiences and helping someone else."

Chief Todd Easton added, "I wish Fred and Mark all the best with their retirement and future plans, but it comes with a great loss to the department. It's difficult to replace seventy-one years of combined service, with the majority of that time holding positions as ranking officers. During this time, both have had numerous BFD members promoted throughout the years who served under their command, so even though they are both "retired," their knowledge and leadership qualities still remain."

Feb. 17 is the 115th anniversary for the Bloomington Fire Department. For more information on the Bloomington Fire Department, go to bloomington.in.gov/about-the-bfd.



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