WASHINGTON CITY – Members of the Washington City Fire Department and civic leaders gathered at Fire Station 61 Friday to hear who the city’s new fire chief would be following the upcoming retirement of Chief Brent Hafen.
Hafen’s last day is March 25, City Manager Roger Carter said to those gathered at the fire station. Hafen was hired as Washington City’s fire chief in April 2013 following then Chief Jim Guynn’s taking a position as the city’s fire marshal. Before then, Hafen served two decades with the St. George Fire Department where he started as a volunteer and rose to the rank of captain.
“He’s retiring for all the right reasons,” Carter said. “So I couldn’t shame him into staying.”
Hafen, who told Washington City officials he was considering retiring in a few years when they hired him, said he’ll be transitioning from firefighting to ranching. His family has a ranch in the Caliente area of Nevada that he’s looking forward to relocating to.
“I’ve been working all my life to be able to go there,” Hafen said, “it’s kind of my dream.”
Hafen’s father, along with his brothers, have also been running the ranch for the last 30 years.
“He’s up in years and I’d really love to spend some time with him while he’s still here,” Hafen said of his father.
Washington City posted an opening for a new fire chief about a month ago following Hafen’s decision to retire. The pool of applicants that came in included chiefs, battalion chiefs and fire marshals, Carter said.
“We really had an outstanding pool of applicants,” Carter said.
When Carter announced that Washington City Fire Capt. Matt Evans was chosen to fill the position, the room erupted into cheers with a standing ovation for the man who had been standing near the back of the room.
“Capt. Evans began his EMS career in about 1989 and his fire career in 1991,” Carter said. “He’s worked for Gold Cross, West Jordan City, Midvale City, the Fire and Rescue Academy as well.”
Working closely with with Chief Hafen, Carter said, Evans helped the build the Fire Department into what it is today.
“I just have that feeling in my gut that this department is going to continue on and won’t miss a step,” Hafen said of Evans’ succeeding him.
“I couldn’t feel better about it,” Hafen said. “My full trust is in Capt. Evans to be the new chief.”
Following the announcement, Evans said he felt humbled by the reception he received.
“That was pretty humbling,” he said. “I was pretty overwhelmed.”
Evans said he currently has no plans to change how the Fire Department works once he is officially sworn in as the new fire chief later this month.
“That’s the great part of taking over a great organization from a really great leader – it doesn’t need change,” he said.
Washington City will hold an open house March 23 for Hafen, who will officially retire March 25. Evans will be sworn in as the new chief in the Washington City Council chambers March 28 at 11 a.m.
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