'He'll always be our brother'
By Max Sullivan
Hampton Union, February 5, 2016
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON — Firefighter Buck Frost said he’s never known someone he could depend on in a burning building quite like Matt Clement.
“I always knew if something happened to me and I was trapped, he’d be the guy that I could count on,” Frost said as he led a small retirement ceremony for Clement outside the Hampton Fire Department Friday. “Getting me out of trouble no matter what.”
The small ceremony honored Clement a month after he retired at just 43, young for a firefighter. Clement was forced to leave firefighting due to a shoulder replacement last year.
Frost was emotional as he spoke about Clement. Firefighters Jason Newman and Jed Carpentier presented Clement with a United States flag from the department’s flag pole.
Clement said Friday was emotional for him as well. He said it meant a lot to hear Frost call him the most “dependable” firefighter he knew.
“It makes me pretty proud,” Clement said. “You can’t get a better compliment than that in the fire service.”
Clement first became a firefighter in 2000 by joining the Newington Fire Department. At the time, he was interested in forestry, possibly doing search and rescue for the National Park Service. He can name any tree, Frost said, as well as teach one anything they’d need to know about hunting or the outdoors. Clement took to firefighting, though, and never left the field, joining Hampton in 2002.
Clement also became known for his work with the department’s water rescue team and scuba diving. Clement said he loves being in the water just like he enjoys being in the woods.
Clement started having shoulder problems about eight years ago, leading to the full shoulder replacement. In November, his doctor recommended he retire from firefighting.
Clement said the early retirement is disappointing. Today, he has trouble lifting his kids, let alone a victim in a burning building.
Frost said Clement would have had at least 20 more years left if it weren’t for his shoulder. He said during the ceremony that he was lying awake the night before thinking about Clement leaving the department so young.
“It was surreal,” Frost said. “Matt and retirement just didn’t make sense.”
Despite retiring, Clement said he’s glad to have made the friends he has at Hampton fire. He lives in Seabrook with his wife Kate, 4-year-old son Luke and 2-year-old daughter Madison.
“I never wanted to go out this way, (but) it’s a great job. You can’t replace the people you work with here,” Clement said. “To go out to work with someone, have your life on the line with them, you develop a certain relationship that can’t be established any other way.”
Clement added, “It’s hard to be away from that knowing my guys will be in danger and I won’t be there.”
Clement’s ties with his fire brothers will remain strong, Frost said. He told those gathered Friday that they were there “Not to say goodbye to Matt but to say thank you.”
“He’ll always be our brother,” Frost said before embracing Clement. “I just want to thank you for being my friend.”