River Country Journal
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November 19, 2012

Colon’s new fire chief welcomed

Colon Fire Department

Sunday afternoon (November 18) in Colon was highlighted by beautiful autumn weather and a small parade of vehicles with sirens sounding as they approached and entered the grounds of the Colon Fire Department on M-86 on the west side of the village.  (Sirens audio clip – :19)

The occasion reflected the revival of a ‘Chief to Chief tradition’ that welcomed Matt Overholt as the recently-selected chief of the Colon Fire Department.

Ed Rangler, chief of the Centreville Fire Department, described the practice this way in an e-mail message to help organize the event:

“Each department is asked to assemble with a piece of apparatus and Chief Officer(s) at a location near the new Chief’s department.  A ‘parade’ with lights and sirens then proceeds to the new Chief’s department, forms up in parking lot area and continues with lights and sirens until the new Chief comes outside.  A brief welcome handshake, congratulations and words of support are exchanged amongst all after which the group forms up for pictures.  Chiefs and apparatus then depart and return to individual stations.”

Matt Overholt, new chief of the Colon Fire Department, is congratulated by Three Rivers Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson outside the fire station in Colon.  (Click on photo to enlarge)

Participating Sunday at Colon were representatives of the Colon Police Department, St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, St. Joseph County E-911/Central Dispatch and the Three Rivers Fire Department.

Three Rivers Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson addressed Overholt as the group arrived and said, “This is your official ‘fire chief welcome’ from St. Joe County.”  (Dan Tomlinson audio clip – :10)

Overholt started his involvement in the fire service with the Leonidas Township Fire Department and joined the Colon Fire Department in 2008.  He became fire chief at Colon in July, succeeding Tim Doenges following his resignation from the post.

The Colon Police Department was among the participants in the Sunday afternoon ‘parade’ to the fire station in Colon.


Overholt described the fire service as “an awesome thing” and said, “We’re all a big family.”  He said the best thing about being involved in the fire service is “friendship . . . working together with other people.”  He indicated that the most challenging part of the fire chief’s position is dealing with budgets.

Beyond his responsibilities with the fire department, Overholt is married to Jessi and is employed as a CNC operator at XL Machine of Three Rivers.

Regarding the Sunday afternoon visit by his public safety colleagues, Overholt indicated that he was surprised and pleased.

The Colon Fire Department is a joint venture of the Village of Colon and Colon Township, governed by a five-person fire board consisting of two representatives from each governmental unit, plus one at-large member.  Overholt said the department currently has 18 active firefighters at this point and indicated he hopes to add four or five more in the upcoming year.

For additional insights about Sunday’s activity and the new fire chief at Colon, click on the following link to hear the interview with Matt Overholt recorded by Bruce Snook of the River Country JournalMatt Overholt interview – 2:34 – 2.35 MB).


  1. Steve Yorks

    That’s great, way to go Matt. I knew Matt as a young kid growing up in the Leonidas-Colon area. Congratulations Matt, make ‘em proud!

  2. Jacob Overholt

    Good job Matt. I am related to Matt.

  3. Disappointed

    It is wonderful that Chief Tomlinson took the time to welcome this young man into service. I do not live in Colon and I do not live in TR; but both of these brave men impress me. Matt, for being willing to step into a leadership role; and Dan for bringing so much integrity and respect to the office of TRFD Chief . Dan is a fantastic role model for our county and a true hero in my book.

    We are a lucky county…..

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