SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Unified Fire Authority Captain Matthew Hambleton, described by the department as “a beloved mentor, friend, and leader,” died on Apr. 12.

Hambleton, a captain of Utah’s largest fire agency, died on Wednesday, according to Unified Fire Authority. Unified Fire wrote that “above all else, Matt dearly loved his wife and two children, whom he leaves behind.”

Hambleton became a firefighter in 1996, serving Salt Lake County with the Unified Fire Authority. During the next five years, Hambleton served as a paramedic for the department and joined Utah’s Task Force 1, one of FEMA’s elite Urban Search and Rescue teams, according to the fire agency’s social media post. By 2006, Hambleton was promoted to Captain, a position he held for over 15 years.

According to the agency, Hambleton founded Unified Fire’s Heavy Rescue Program, an effort specializing in difficult rescues, such as structure collapse, confined spaces, and vehicle extrication.

Hambleton has also been recognized for his deployment to the World Trade Center after 9/11 and to the south following Hurricane Harvey, according to the post. In 2020, he fought wildfires in Oregon and was involved in the efforts following Hurricane Laura.

The agency said he was an expert in many subjects, including rope rescue, trench rescue, and rapid intervention teams, and “always enthusiastically passed his knowledge and skills to others.”

“We lost a beloved and respected member of our fire family,” Unified Fire wrote. “He will be very deeply missed.”