CANNON BEACH — After three years as the fire chief for the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District, Matt Benedict announced he will retire at the end of the year.
Benedict will help the fire district’s board with the recruitment of a new chief.
“I’ve been in the fire service for 30 years and it takes its toll on you physically and mentally,” he said. “I’ve put in 30 years and it is time for me to give this body a rest.”
Every day the fire department is called to a scene, they are getting called to somebody’s worst day, he said. Experiencing people’s worst days with them builds up and leaves firefighters learning to cope, he said.
Prior to Cannon Beach, Benedict served as assistant fire chief for the Pendleton Fire Department, where he climbed the ranks over 20 years.
The Cannon Beach fire district hired Benedict in 2016 to replace Mike Balzer, who was fired in 2015. Balzer filed a civil rights lawsuit against the fire district that was eventually settled by a $55,000 payout.
“I’m comfortable leaving this organization the way I have developed it over the past three years,” Benedict said. “Now I get to revitalize some of those things that kind of got lost during my career.”
Benedict is not planning on staying in the area. He said his wife intends to work as a traveling nurse.
Benedict is looking forward to spending more time with his family, traveling and enjoying the outdoors.
Although he will not miss all the rain, Benedict said he will miss the community, the beautiful days and listening to the ocean and campfire in the evenings.