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Matek is Farmington Firefighter of the Year

Farmington rescue captain Christopher Matek, right, was named as the Farmington Firefighter of the Year for 2012. Matek is also the adviser for the FFD Explorer program, and is pictured awarding a pin to one of the members during the Jan. 11 annual banquet.

When it comes to emergency services, there really isn't much 2012 Farmington Firefighter of the Year Christopher Matek hasn't done -- which is probably a good part of why he was selected for this year's honor.

Matek was named Firefighter of the Year during the Farmington Fire Department's annual banquet Jan. 11. Matek was chosen for the honor by a secret vote of his peers on the department.

Matek started his career in emergency services in New York back in 1986. He was there for several years before moving to Chicago in 2000, where he was hired fulltime on the Chicago Fire Department. He was in Chicago for two years.

After his father passed away, Matek's wife wanted to be able to raise their daughter closer to family, so they moved to Minnesota, and landed in Farmington. Initially, Matek went to work for ALF Ambulance as a paramedic.

Working with ALF enabled him to become involved with several programs in the area and in Dakota County. Many of those programs put him in touch with members of the Farmington Fire Department.

"Eventually I realized they were having more fun than I was, so I put my application in and joined up," Matek said.

Matek came on board with the Farmington Fire Department in 2005. In the summer of 2006, he left ALF Ambulance and went to work full time for the fire department on the Mdewakanton Sioux reservation in Prior Lake. Two years later, he left that post.

These days, Matek keeps himself busy with several part-time jobs. He works for the Northfield Hospital EMS as a paramedic, and he teaches fire and EMS programs at Hennepin Technical College. He also runs Kyo Yook Do Martial Arts, and strings as a wildland firefighter and paramedic for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

All of those seemingly odd jobs allow him to be around the Farmington fire stations on a pretty regular basis.

"I ended up working part-time in several different places, so I have some flexibility in my schedule and how I can do different things," he said.

Matek is captain of the rescue squad. He also started the Farmington Fire Explorer Post 9470 just over two years ago.

Going into last week's annual banquet, Matek had no idea he had been chosen as the 2012 Firefighter of the Year. His wife did, but she didn't let on.

"I had no knowledge of what they were doing. Apparently the chief (Tim Pietsch) had called my wife so she knew," he said. "For the first time in our relationship, she was able to keep a secret from me.

"When (Pietsch) mentioned the person is not afraid to voice his opinion, I had a mild inkling it was me. I'm sometime not the most subtle or politically correct."

The designation is an honor to Matek. He feels fortunate to now be a part of a group of firefighters who he holds in high esteem, but he also thinks there are many members of the Farmington Fire Department who deserve recognition for the work they do every day.

"My goal is to do my job the best that I can. Recognition is always nice. It's flattering. But it's not the pinnacle of my career," he said. "I want to continue doing my job, and doing it to the best of my ability. That's what I'm doing it for."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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