Superior fire chief makes plans to start a new chapter in his life
Chief Tad Matheson announced plans to retire after more than 32 years with the Superior Fire Department. Matheson made the announcements Wednesday night to the city's Public Safety Committee, and Police and Fire Commission. Matheson joined the fi...
Chief Tad Matheson announced plans to retire after more than 32 years with the Superior Fire Department.
Matheson made the announcements Wednesday night to the city's Public Safety Committee, and Police and Fire Commission.
Matheson joined the fire department in 1976 and became its chief in 2005. He plans to hang up his hat Feb. 28 to start a new chapter in his life.
"I can still do a lot of things," Matheson said. "I'm going to do some stuff with my family, some traveling. I didn't put retirement in my letter; there are no plans for me to retire."
Matheson said he decided to make the announcement now to give the city plenty of time to appoint a new chief, and to work with the individual before his last day if possible.
The son of a firefighter, Matheson became the city's 13th fire chief in November 2005.
"My father didn't want me to be a firefighter," Matheson said following his appointment to the fire department's top position in 2005. "I think when he worked, it wasn't that good of a paying job. And I think as a parent you're always looking for your child to do better. He always pushed me to better myself."
That paternal push prompted Matheson to attend the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He was working on an accounting degree when the city offered a firefighting test.
Matheson said his father encouraged him to test for a job with the fire department because the scheduling would accommodate his education. When he finished school, Matheson decided to stay with the fire department.
During his career, Matheson served as the hazardous materials coordinator when the department was developing its program in 1990. By 1992, the state designated the Superior Fire Department as a regional hazardous materials response team, which Matheson continued to lead.
Matheson also helped develop a joint rescue dive team with the Superior Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff's Department.
After being appointed interim chief in June 2005, after Stephen Gotelaere was forced to retire following the discovery of falsified travel records, Matheson uncovered his predecessor's theft from the fire department. Gotelaere is serving a prison sentence in connection with the scheme that cost the city nearly $240,000.
Since taking the lead of the fire department, Matheson has expanded the scope of firefighters training to add confined space and collapse rescue training. He also succeeded in securing funding and training for a fireboat, enabling the department to battle blazes in the port.
Matheson also served as president and was the founder of the Wisconsin Fire and Police Hall of Fame, and was involved in the Old Firehouse and Police Museum where the hall is located.
"I feel lucky that I've worked for the city and just worked for one employer for 32 years," Matheson said Wednesday night. "It's been exciting and gratifying."
Contact Shelley Nelson at (715) 395-5022 or email@example.com .