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Pacquet fire chief receives international scholarship

Fire Chief Jodie Matthews of Pacquet is leading the way for women in the firefighting profession.
Fire Chief Jodie Matthews of Pacquet is leading the way for women in the firefighting profession. - Cory Hurley

It was in early March when Jodie Matthews’ phone rang. 

On the other end was a lady telling the Pacquet Volunteer Fire Department’s chief that she was to be a recipient of the National Fire Protection Association’s Rising Star Scholarship. 

Thing was, Matthews didn’t think the call was a legitimate one. 

She thought it might be one of those scams calls that offer you a free trip or a grand prize of some sort. 

She promptly hung up and told the caller never to ring her number again. 

However, the representative from association’s next step of correspondence came in the form of an email and then another phone call. 

“I am honoured to receive this,” said Matthews. “(The scholarship) is not something that I was expecting.” 

Matthews is now one of nine stars from across North America — three from Canada and six from the United States — selected to attend the association’s 2019 Conference and Expo being held in San Antonio, Texas next week. 

You don’t volunteer with a local fire department for the prestige or the money. You do so to help your community and Matthews is no different. 

With her selection to head to the Lonestar State, Matthews will be able to network with others in her field, strategize and bring back resources that can help the fire chief protect her community. 

“It is a learning opportunity,” said Laura King, the association’s public-education representative for Canada. “It is about building her tool box and helping her build programs to help protect her community. 

“(Jodie) is a great choice.” 

Matthews has been the fire chief in Pacquet for the last three years. When the former chief stepped down, she was the only member who offered to step up and fill the position. 

She started with an interim tag attached to the title, but she’s been in the position ever since. 

“There is a lot of work to being a fire chief and a firefighter,” said Matthews. “You’re on call all the time. 

“I was surprised to even get the call.” 

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