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Inside DPS

Remembering our friend, Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett

Tuesday August 13, 2019

One year ago today, the State of Utah received devastating news: One of our state’s firefighters, who had deployed to California to assist during their terrible fire season, had been killed in the line of duty while fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire.

Our collective breaths stopped.

We couldn’t believe it. Our friend, Draper Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett, would not be coming home safe and sound as he had so many times before. Most of us had gotten to know Matt when he worked for Unified Fire Authority and Salt Lake County Emergency Management. He was kind, caring and had a willing attitude to help promote emergency preparedness throughout Salt Lake County.

A week after his passing, his funeral was held at the Maverik Center in West Valley City:

Today, we are sharing some thoughts from our Division of Emergency Management staff about Matt:

Matt had volunteered on each EMAC request we put out. He was always willing to step up and help out. I loved that he always showed his concern for his fellow fire fighters in making sure they were trained in what they needed. He mentored many, including many of our DEM staff, on how to be a leader and friend.

The love that came out after his death from the fire fighters was truly overwhelming and made me want to be just like him; helping others, training his fire fighters to be safe, and being a true friend to those serving with him. I also loved the relationship he had with his family. He is a true hero and I’m sure still watching over his firefighters and family as he did everyday. I think about Matt everyday and the sacrifice he gave.

DEM Deputy Director Judy Watanabe

Matt was one of the kindest people I have ever met.  He had a sweet smile that just made everyone feel at ease. 

Training and Exercise manager Kris Repp

My heart is with the Burchett Family today and often as I remember the sacrifice he made. I am honored to have met him and to have seen his integrity in action.

Exercise officer Tracy Bodily

Thanks to our friends at Salt Lake County Emergency Management for this thought:

Today, we remember that Matt gave his life and death in the service of others. Let’s use our lives to do the same.

Joe Dougherty is the public information officer for our Division of Emergency Management –


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