Born to help others

TRACY AREA HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE MATT RETTMER (RIGHT) is pictured with his Castle Rock battalion chief Eric Morgenthaler. Submitted photo

By Per Peterson

There were few Tracy kids in the early 1980s more active than Matt Rettmer was.

Growing up on Hollett St., Rettmer spent most of his summers anywhere but inside his parents’ home. He was almost always outside, either playing sports with his buddies, or simply hanging out with friends until the street lights came on.

Either that, or he was chasing sirens.

“I do have memories of living on Hollett Street, hearing the fire department siren sound and shortly afterward hearing and seeing the fire trucks responding,” Rettmer said. “As I got older, I would chase them on my bike to see if I could go to the scene to watch. I remember riding out of town two different times and making it to both of the incidents. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but to think that a 9- or 10-year-old kid is riding his bike on the highway to chase the fire trucks doesn’t seem too smart. But I was an eager and motivated kid — why not chase them down?”

As it turns out, Rettmer wasn’t just another kid drawn to drama.

This June 12, Rettmer was sworn in as the new Fairmount Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief in Golden, CO — another step in what has turned out to be a most meaningful life of service.

“The position of Battalion Chief has been on my career goal list for the past 10 years,” said Rettmer, a 1990 graduate of Tracy Area High School. “This position is still a ‘line’ position, which means I am running calls and on the street with the crews.”

In his new post, Rettmer functions as the daily chief in charge of all on-duty personnel and oversees all emergencies. For the more critical incidents such as structure fires, grass fires, serious medical calls, he said, he responds and functions as the incident commander, meaning it is his responsibility to manage the crews, units and overall resources.

“I have numerous certifications and education, which is usually required by most fire departments to function in this capacity,” he said. “I had worked with Castle Rock Fire Department for 23 years and over the last few years, it was time to make a career change and challenge myself in a new organization.”

Rettmer, son of the late Con and Sandi Rettmer, spent 23 years at Castle Rock Fire in Colorado, a position that not only served as a stepping stone, but one that he found rewarding and fulfilling. Through those 20-plus years he learned first-hand how important firefighters are to their communities.

“I have countless memories and stories I could tell, some are funny and others are heartbreaking,” he said. “What I do know, is that all firefighters, paid and volunteer, are at their core, servant people. We want to help others in the worst times and have become the ‘go-to’ for all things.  The fire department does more than just put fires out these days.  We are who you call when you need help, and that is the way it should be. Honest, good-hearted people, doing honest goodwill work to help our neighbors and community members and those traveling through.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.