Firefighter of the Year stuck in elevator before ceremony

Matt Hoppel, an 18-year veteran, said the fire department had to let him out of the trapped elevator


Billings Gazette

BILLINGS, Mont. — An unsung hero of the Billings Fire Department received some public praise Tuesday in a ceremony in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The "Firefighter of the Year" accepted a personalized Pulaski, a tool commonly used in fire and rescue, but not before getting rescued himself.

Matt Hoppel, training officer for BFD, showed up to his own party late, but he was in time to receive his award from the Billings Downtown Exchange Club, and he had a good excuse.

"We were stuck in the elevator for 10 minutes," Hoppel said. "The fire department came and let us out. I guess my training worked." Hoppel, an 18-year BFD veteran, is the only training officer for the department and is responsible for preparing more than 100 firefighters for the diverse emergencies they respond to every day. In his address to the Crowne Plaza audience, mostly Downtown Exchange Club members, Hoppel said he attributes a lot of his success in developing a training program to having the humility to listen to the men he trains.

Full story: 'Firefighter of the Year' delayed because he was stuck in elevator

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