Deputy Chief Matt Gustafson

Fire & EMS Associate

Retired Deputy Fire Chief, Sonoma County

Matt has a forty year career in public and private fire service, and most recently retired as a Deputy Chief with the Sonoma County, CA Fire District. Deputy Chief Matt Gustafson started his career as a volunteer Firefighter for the City of Larkspur (CA). Matt was later hired at Lucasfilm LTD to help create a new fire, safety, and security division for the Skywalker Ranch / Lucasfilm complexes. Matt gained extraordinary experience and education in private emergency services as well as motion-picture film and TV entertainment safety. Matt worked his way up to Assistant Fire Chief and Head of Safety/Security for the Skywalker Ranch complex.

In 1998, Matt was hired with Windsor Fire Protection District as a Battalion Chief / Fire Marshal. As Battalion Chief, Matt managed fire station crews, administrative staff and responded to greater alarm incidents ultimately for two fire districts under a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA). Matt managed employee performance and relations, facilities, and policy development. During this time, Matt founded the Sonoma County Fire Chief Operation section which led to more common county-wide tactics and strategies, strike team and county-wide resource management. As Fire Marshal, Matt performed plan review and fire and life safety inspections for new building projects and events for a rapidly growing community. Matt managed fire investigations, public relations, and community risk reduction programs. Matt worked closely effectively with the public, building officials, planners, developers, other fire officials, city officials, and elected officials. Matt served as president of the Sonoma County Fire Prevention Officers and facilitated the “single-code” (one fire code for the entire county) project. Matt also served as acting assistant fire chief for several years and routinely filled in for the fire chief. Matt managed a LEED/Green certified new fire station project, added staffing, built employee relations, created strategic plans, team building programs, fee schedules, mitigation revenues, and a career succession program.

In recent years, Matt has helped manage complex annexations and mergers resulting in five struggling agencies to become one cohesive agency and increasing services from BLS to ALS. Matt has also spent a great deal of time helping the district and the community regain footing after four back to back large incidents , namely the Tubbs (2018), Kincade (2019),Walbridge, Glass, Lightening Complex (2020) fires.

In August 2021, Matt retired as the district continued to blossom with a solid budget, high employee morale, very good public relations, robust loss-prevention program and with the district overall poised for additional expansions. Matt is currently an adjunct fire officer instructor and oversees firefighter and EMT internships for the Santa Rosa Jr. College.

Matt has an Associates degree in Fire Science Technology, a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Administration and Prevention (Magna Cum Laude), Fire Officer Certification, and is a Master Instructor within the California State Fire Service Training and Education System.