Firefighter Matt Conde is the Sabattus Volunteer Fire Department Fire Fighter of the Year and EMS Responder of the Year. 

SABATTUS — Matt Conde is a busy father of four who regularly rolls out of bed in the middle of the night to run toward a fire or a person having a heart attack.

He’s lived in Sabattus all of his 35 years and says he’s just happy to help.

Last week, the volunteer fire department named him Fire Fighter of the Year for the second year in a row and the EMS Responder of the Year for the first time.

Conde joined the department in July 2014. He only got his basic emergency medical technician license last June, but in those last six months of the year, “he hammered it, he made almost every call,” Fire Chief Marc Veilleux said.

The EMS award goes annually to the person with the most calls. The Fire Fighter of the Year is chosen by officers based on measures like attitude and participation, “the way that everybody looks at them and looks up to them,” Veilleux said. “He’s very enthusiastic; he wants to learn. That positive attitude spreads and that’s what we look for.”

Conde graduated from Oak Hill High School in 2000. He and wife Barbie Jo have an 11-year-old son and three daughters, 8, 5 and 1.

“My son is very excited to get into high school so he can join the department as a junior firefighter,” said Conde, who was recently promoted to lieutenant. “The youngest loves seeing the firetrucks.”

He works for a cable company in Portland so most of his calls are evenings, overnights and weekends. The department averages 300 calls a year. He said he was spurred to take EMT training after feeling like there were a lot of medical ones that he wasn’t able to help with.

“To me, the fire service is not about rewarding or getting anything; it’s about helping and doing your job,” Conde said. “It’s interesting, and I never realized this until I started, once a call is done, you talk about it. The minute the next call comes in, everything is gone and you’re focused on that next.”

He’s responded to everything from burnt food to a 14-hour mulch plant fire. Plenty of accidents. Gunshot wounds.

“The most memorable call for me, and it kind of hit close to home, there was a fire on Rabbit Road,” Conde said. A mom and five children had escaped after the oldest child woke everyone up.

“(That) was probably the first real big fire that I’d been to, and I was first on scene with my engine company,” he said. “That’s probably one that’s going to stick in my brain for a while. (The homeowner’s) kids go to school with my kids, he grew up with my wife, there’s a lot of personal connection there.”

Conde said he’d like to keep at it as long as he can balance work, family and volunteering.

“I really like doing this — I like being there,” he said. “It’s something silly, but I think to myself, it’s not great to get up at 1 o’clock in the morning and still have to work the next day, but if something ever happens at my house or my family, I’d want everybody to do the same thing. The good deed bank, I guess you call it. We all have other jobs and we all have other things. If I can take an hour of my time to help somebody, it’s for the good of the community.”

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Sabattus Fire Department recognitions

Also honored last week: 

Fire Officer of the Year: Lt. Tony Siderio (second year in a row)

Junior Fire Fighter of the Year: Benjamin Burgess

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