A career facing the fire

Matt and Gigha Goldman

Matt and Gigha Goldman

Getting woken at all hours of the night and running into a building that everyone else is running out of, needs a special kind of commitment. Glen Innes Fire station Commander Matt Goldman has been making this commitment for nearly 20 years and he has no plans on doing anything else for a living. CRAIG THOMSON reports.

MATT Goldman started his career with Fire and Rescue NSW in 1998 as a retained firefighter at Moree Fire Station and within six months he had become a permanent firefighter and had passed through the Fire Training College in Sydney.  

Goldman’s first permanent fire Station posting was at Redfern, and he was transferred shortly after to the City Of Sydney Fire Station where he learnt his trade and spent the first four years of his career.

Helping people is the primary reason he became a firefighter and it is still the main motivation for Commander Goldman to lace on his boots at the beginning of each shift.

“Firefighting is a career where you can actually help someone, usually on one of the worst days of their life, whether it be at a structure fire or something like a car accident,” he said.

“It is nice to feel that you can make society a better place through your work and not just profit off others.” 

As Commander of a country fire brigade that has volunteer retained fire fighters, Goldman sees his job as being part of a team, rather than as a traditional boss.

“My job is not to individually deal with emergency incidents,” he said.

“Firefighting is one of the most team oriented occupations on the planet, no firefighter works on his or her own. 

“I have a great crew of Retained Staff at Glen Innes Fire Station who give their time to assist the residents of Glen Innes, my job is to ensure that they can do their job as good as any other firefighter in the state,  this means not only keeping abreast of exciting innovations in the industry, but also the more mundane tasks of checking equipment, repeating drills and keeping everything in the Station immaculate, so that when an emergency occurs, there is no guess work, it all should be second nature.”

Commander Goldman said he feels an immense responsibility to prevent fires and emergencies happening within the Glen Innes Severn shire.

“My job is to be responsible for the safety from fire and other emergency situations for all of the people in the Glen Innes shire area,” he said.

“This means not only responding to emergency incidents, but also training of internal staff, prevention, education and recovery after the event.  

“It is the responsibility of my role through prevention programs and community education, to ensure that the people of Glen Innes are not injured by emergency events and if they are, to investigate the cause and ensure that it does not happen in the future.”

Goldman said that preparation is the key for any firefighter to be safe and the best at what they do.

“My average day could be calm and quiet or I may be involved in a significant event, like the recent Blue Mountains bushfires,  that is what makes the job of firefighting interesting,” he said.

“Every incident is different,  like a marathon runner that trains for the Olympics, the actual marathon is not where the challenge is, it is in the years of training or study that leads up to the event.  

“When I am not responding to incidents, my work life at the Station is one of routine and repetition,  I try to inch closer to a better level of protection for the residents of Glen Innes from fires and emergency events, that may be through more realistic training, better administration or trying to provide a more professional work environment for my staff,  that is the challenge.”

Commander Goldman credits a varied work life before becoming a firefighter as one reason he still feels inspired and challenged so many years into his career.  

“Before I became a firefighter, I spent some time in the military and at university, where I completed my Masters degree in Public Sector Management with the Australian Defense Force Academy and the University of New South Wales,” he said.

“During the time after university and before I joined the fire service at the age of 24, I had done some work finding out what would suit me as a career,  some of these jobs included: working on a tall ship teaching sailing to children, managing a prison, and as a trapeze artist.”

Goldman said he enjoys living in Glen Innes and feels his wife and family keep him grounded.

“When I was a child my family moved around a lot so I enjoy the stability of living in Glen Innes,” he said.

“I like the idea that people are more accountable in small towns, and that everyone knows everyone else and the sense of community that goes with it.  

“I am happily married to my wife of 15 years, Gigha Goldman,  we met at university when we were both 17 years old, and we have two children, Jack Goldman who is in year eight at Glen Innes High School and Aurora College and Lucy Goldman who is the current school captain at Glen Innes Public School.

“This year my family and I will be completing a five day trek through the mountains of New Zealand, so I am trying to get fit for that and spend some more time with the people that mean the most in the world to me.”

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