Hempel—Matthew David Hempel, 42, suddenly, on February 14, 2016, in Marlton, N.J. Matt was born on April 3, 1973, in Crosswicks, N.J. He attended Moorestown Friends School and graduated from high school in 1992 in Duxbury, Mass., and from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) with a bachelor’s degree in 1996. He earned a master’s in public safety administration from Saint Joseph’s University. He always wanted to be a firefighter and began his career at the Duxbury Fire Department in Richmond, Ky., while he attended EKU. After graduating from EKU, he returned to New Jersey and served with the Moorestown Fire Department and Moorestown Emergency Medical Services until he was hired in 1996 by Evesham Township Fire and Rescue Department, where he was a firefighter, lieutenant, training officer, and recruitment and retention officer. While serving at Evesham, he completed the challenging four-year National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program, which often serves as the pinnacle of a fire service career.
He was also a senior instructor at the Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center and Burlington County EMS coordinator for many years, lending support to incident commanders throughout the region and state. He served as a member of the Burlington County Hazmat Team, Burlington County Emergency Management Incident Support Team, Beverly-Edgewater Park EMS, Florence Township Fire Department, New Jersey State Forest Fire Service, Burlington County College Fire Science Program Advisory Board, and Burlington County First Aid Council Board of Directors. He was also president of the Evesham Fire Officers FMBA Local 115.
He received many valor awards for his heroic actions, including one from Burlington County for his 2014 off-duty rescue of a man from a burning motel room, in which he entered the room three times without fire gear protection in his search and suffered smoke inhalation for his effort.
Matt is survived by his wife, Suzanne Szabo Hempel; two children, Savanna Painter and Colby Hempel; his parents, Mary Beth and Walter Hempel,; a godchild, Taylor Hempel; a brother, Benjamin T. Hempel (Amy); his parents-in-law, Lois and Joseph Szabo; the Szabo family; and many loving family members, nieces, and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to Eastern Kentucky University, Arthur Glatfelter Scholarship for Fire Safety, Office of Development, 521 Lancaster Ave., Richmond, KY 40475.