Matt Aalto's Bio
I was born and raised in Oregon and have lived in various parts around the state. In 1997 I met my wife Tami at the Uof O and we were married in 1999. Tami and I enjoy traveling as much as possible. We love almost every outdoor activity Oregon has to offer and enjoy catching live music concerts when possible. We have a boxer dog named Leila and currently live in Salem.
After years of working in retail, sales and eventually media, I decided that it was time to make a change as I wasn't satisfied with the type of work I was in. So the slow progression of becoming a firefighter began. It all started with joining the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Tigard, OR. While I loved the training, I wanted to become more involved. This led me to volunteer for the American Red Cross in Portland where I became a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member. While on a call for assistance, a Lieutenant from TVF&R recommended that I look into becoming a firefighter. Shortly after I took his advice and visited Portland Community College (PCC) to learn more about their Fire Science Program. I became hooked immediately and joined the following term.
While taking classes at PCC, I started volunteering for the Cornelius Fire Department in 2009. I became an engineer and shortly after was hired by the Stayton Fire District as a Firefighter/EMT and Recruitment and Retention Coordinator on a 4-year SAFER grant. During the time at Stayton Fire, I co-founded the Oregon Fire Recruitment Network and in time became involved in website design and marketing for over fifty fire departments and nationally related organizations. After 5 years at Stayton Fire District, I moved to the Gaston Fire District where I am currently a Lieutenant/EMT and Training Officer. Outside of my daily responsibilities, I am a course instructor for the International Association of Fire Chief's specializing in Recruitment and Retention. I have acted as the Subject Matter Expert nationally on several occasions for organizations such as the National Volunteer Fire Council, National Fire Academy, and International Association of Fire Chiefs. I've also taught at several regional and local symposiums on recruitment and retention as well as diversity and inclusion.
My fire-based education consists of my Associates Degree from Portland Community College in Fire Protection Technology, and a Bachelor's Degree in Fire Administration from Eastern Oregon University. I also hold a Leadership Effectiveness Certificate from Notre Dame University. In 2019 I completed the National Fire Academy's Managing Officer Program. I currently hold certifications as a Fire Officer III, Instructor II, Driver, Pumper Operator and Aerial Operator, Engine Boss, Juvenile Firesetter Spec I, Public Information Officer, EMT and other related certs both locally and nationally.