The Thin Line Spotlight: Noblesville Fire Chief Matt Mitchell
Matt Mitchell has been with the Noblesville Fire Department for quite a while – more than 28 years in fact.
In that timespan, Mitchell has worked in a multitude of positions, from firefighter to fire marshal. As such, he’s more than equipped for his current job as fire chief.
Having served as fire chief for the Noblesville Fire Department since January 1 of this year, Mitchell has put in decades of hard work, courageously keeping the Noblesville community safe. Formerly the assistant fire chief under Greg Wyant, Mitchell oversees a staff of about 140 administrators and shift personnel, while handling a budget of over $20 million.
Originally from Kokomo, Mitchell earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Marian University, where he also played basketball. While he was finishing up school, Mitchell’s mother moved to Noblesville, where he eventually relocated after graduating.
“I suspect I probably went through Noblesville at some point in my life to play basketball, but I really didn’t have much knowledge at all about the city,” Mitchell says.
Upon graduating from college in 1991, Mitchell had a tough time finding a job in his chosen field. On a whim, his mother connected him with the Noblesville Fire Department, and the rest was history.
“My mom got a hold of the paper at the time, and they were advertising for the Noblesville Fire Department,” Mitchell says. “My mom filled out the application and sent it in. She then called me and said, ‘By the way, you need to be in Noblesville at the fire station on this particular day.’ That’s how it started.”
When Mitchell first started with the Noblesville Fire Department, things were quite different than they are now.
“Back in the early ’90s when I started, we were still in the fire station across the street from where the Public Safety Building is now,” he says. “It was a situation where we didn’t have a lot of people. When we had any type of fire, the whole department got called in to handle that, including guys that were both off duty and on duty. Times have really changed.”
Mitchell says the Noblesville Fire Department truly transformed when Ken Gilliam served as fire chief.
“Chief Gilliam came in and made sweeping changes in the Noblesville fire service, primarily taking over the EMS service,” Mitchell says. “That’s probably the biggest change that I lived through.”
Ultimately, he’s seen the Noblesville Fire Department grow hand in hand with the city it serves.
“We had three stations,” Mitchell says. “Now, we have seven stations and make thousands more runs than we did back then.”
Over the years Mitchell has moved up the department’s chain of command organically, humbly serving the city on his way to becoming fire chief.
“With most of the positions I went into, I was content where I was and never really had aspirations to go to the next step,” he says. “But when those spots became available, the positions did at least have an opportunity to do something new. So I just leveraged that and moved up.”
As fire chief, Mitchell has a full plate of responsibilities. Some of these include budget creation, human resource management, strategic planning and overall fire department oversight. Mitchell also sets and models the mission and vision of the Noblesville Fire Department, making sure each new staff member he hires on is in alignment with the department’s mission.
“The hiring process is dictated by our Fire Department Merit Commission, so it’s very structured,” Mitchell says. “We currently have a joint hiring process with what we call the big four departments in the county, and those are the Fishers, Carmel, Westfield and Noblesville fire departments. We have a company that comes in and does all the testing, and they produce a list. The fire departments have rules on how we handle names on that list.”
A longtime resident of Cicero, Mitchell and his wife raised four children in Hamilton County. Having lived in the area for some time now, there’s no place else they’d rather be.
“We love the Hamilton Heights school system,” Mitchell says. “It’s just a great area to raise a family and to live, work and play.”
For more information on the Noblesville Fire Department, visit cityofnoblesville.org.
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