SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Fire Rescue has a new fire chief; Matt McAreavey took on the role on February 15.
“It’s pretty surreal and really daunting,” McAreavey said. “It’s really a world-class organization, with over 200 members that are just striving to do the best every day.”
McAreavey is no stranger to the community; he grew up in rural Minnehaha County.
“Met my wife at Augustana, went to Augustana and graduate 2001,” McAreavey said. “We met there and then got married. We have four small children, I guess they keep getting bigger and bigger but yeah: 13, 10 and twins that are seven.”
McAreavey began with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue back in 2002.
“He’s a people person,” Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Cpt. Chris Irsfeld said. “I started with Matt in the same cadet class in 2002, and obviously worked with him for my entire career here at Sioux Falls. Matt’s a people person. He involves the people who he is with, he communicates with the people he is with.”
“I’m a farm kid with a college education, and that’s just really where I come from,” McAreavey said. “That I have a background of solving problems, helping people and really getting out there, and I just really enjoy people. So yeah if you see me out and about don’t be afraid to come up and shake my hand.”
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“It’s empowering those to do the most that they want,” McAreavey said. “With the fire service, the mission is kind of built in. We get to help people every day. We show up when people are having their worst days, and we solve problems for them. So it was really inspiring being in that position and working through, and I love solving problems.”
His role has evolved.
“Now it’s interesting being removed from that, and now getting to support those that are out doing that amazing mission,” McAreavey said. “But really we just need to empower them to have the tools and resources that they need to really just be engaged and love their job.”
“Matt’s a leader, he’s a difference-maker,” Irsfeld said. “So when I say that I mean that he expects people to bring solutions to problems when we’re dealing with different projects on the department. He expects a lot out of his people. He allows people to work.”
McAreavey now carries on the work that came before him and continues under his leadership.
“The hallway right outside my office has all the chiefs of Sioux Falls Fire past, so it’s kind of a daily reminder of where we came from and where we’re going,” McAreavey said.