Laker retires after 12 years with local Fire Department

Matt Downey continues to support fire services through his business

Matt Downey with kids (from left) Dylan, Dakota, and Kayden standing on a local fire truck. Facebook image

Matt Downey with kids (from left) Dylan, Dakota, and Kayden standing on a local fire truck. Facebook image

The Sylvan Lake Fire Department’s second lieutenant Matt Downey retired from his 12-year career as a firefighter mid-November. Downey attended numerous calls as a first responder and will carry fond memories, fine friends, and a lifetime of experiences from his time of service with the fire department.

“It was a great ride. It was 12 years of my life and I have no regrets. I enjoyed every minute of it and I learned a lot, especially from Cliff Brausen and Steve Scanland the Chief and Deputy Chief. I appreciate all the time they put in and I value all those that are still there, and the amount of time and effort they put in is amazing. They are top-notch guys and girls, I love them all,” said Downey, adding, “It’s sad that I couldn’t keep it up myself but I know the town’s in good hands and there are a lot of good folks out there that are doing great.”

“Matt Downey has been an outstanding firefighter and a great leader. He was good with the young members and was always willing to go the extra mile. He is going to be missed and will be hard to be replaced,” said Brausen.

Starting work with the fire department as a firefighter in 2009, Downey completed several department courses for promotion to the position of second lieutenant. “I completed a number of courses with the fire department while I was there and learned a lot about how to remain calm under pressure. I met a lot of people throughout the years and a few of them are good friends now. There have been lots of good memories, and bad ones too, like tough calls and other challenges,” said Downey.

When asked about the decision to step down from his position, Downey said, “It got harder to put the time in that I think was necessary to be the best firefighter that I could be. So, it seemed to be a logical choice to step down and give somebody else a chance who can respond more often than I could.”

Having spent over a decade with the local fire department, Downey said the numbers and types of calls have stayed relatively same over the years, with the exception of dealing with fires in larger multi-storied buildings in recent times.

“As volunteer departments go, Sylvan Lake is quite a busy one, responds to a lot of calls,” said Downey. “Cancer rates are up in the fire services, and Sylvan Lake definitely took a forefront as a volunteer department to try and mitigate that with gross decontamination and inspection of our gear and extra washing. They do really well as a volunteer department, nothing but good things to say about it,” he added.

Downey has seen the department move from the old fire hall to its current location at 2 Beacon Hill Dr.

“Since I was there, we got a brand new rescue truck, brand new engine, and a brand new tower as well. A lot of things changed. We got a support trailer, a boat, an ATV, and other equipment. I have seen a lot of changes just within the fire service itself,” said Downey. He added these upgrades strengthen the response to fire emergencies, especially given the increasing number of tall buildings coming up in the area of Sylvan Lake.

During his time as a firefighter, Downey developed an inseparable interest in the field, leading to the inception of his business, Poseidon Ink, in 2019. The business is a turnout gear clean, repair, and certification company based out of Sylvan Lake. The National Fire Protection Association requires frequent inspection and recertification of firefighters’ turnout gear.

“Being in the fire service and having personally used the gear, myself and my business partners thought that this would be a way that we could help, and try and get more gear certified for more departments and make sure that the guys wearing it are receiving clean, and appropriate gear, which protects and is safe for them to wear,” said Downey.

Along with cherishing the extra time with his family, Downey is channelling his energy to expand his business and continue working full-time in the oil field industry.

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