GONZALES — Matt Lopez has joined the Gonzales Fire Department as the newest fire engineer and began his first day last Friday, Sept. 1.

Lopez has lived in Gonzales since 1993 and attended La Gloria Elementary School and Fairview Middle School. He graduated from Palma High School in Salinas. Following his graduation, Lopez attended Fresno State before he enlisted in the military.

Lopez joined the California National Guard as a C130 engine mechanic. As he was waiting to get shipped out on assignment, Lopez received his Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification.

“Right around then was when I found that my calling was public safety and I wanted to serve the public,” Lopez said. “My way of doing that was joining the National Guard.”

Lopez’s father, Richard, was also a firefighter in Salinas and served as fire engineer before he retired.

“He’s definitely one of my inspirations for becoming a firefighter,” Lopez said.

Lopez began with the Gonzales Fire Department in 2013 as a volunteer. He said the department has been growing along with the needs of the city.

“I’ve seen a lot, done a lot and worked with some great people over four years,” Lopez said. “I’ve worked my way up from being the last person on the gear wall and now I’m fourth from the front.”

Lopez has worked his way to being a lieutenant and graduated from the Monterey Peninsula College Fire Academy as the first class of 2016.

Lopez also has prior ties to the Gonzales Police Department, where he served as the Community Service Officer and Animal Control for two and a half years. Lopez was able to see the interworking of the department and work with police staff and the Gonzales Fire Department as an EMT.

“It was a great experience,” Lopez said. “I got to work directly under two chiefs, the fire and the police, and I got to know the city a lot more.”

Lopez’s new gig sees him driving the fire engine and serving in a supervisory role.

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