VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Support continues to grow for fallen Virginia Beach Fire Capt. Matt Chiaverotti.
Friends and fellow firefighters say he was one of a kind and is already missed.
Black wreaths are hanging outside Virginia Beach Fire Station 7 in Town Center, where he worked as the captain of Engine 7.
Chiaverotti, who went by “Chevy” for short, was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer last August. Friends said his diagnosis came as a shock to them. They say he was on shift eight months ago when he got the call from his doctor and many of them were right there with him from the start.
They said it just all happened so fast.
Virginia Beach Fire Capt. Timothy Byrne worked at Station 7 as the Ladder Truck Captain, alongside Chiaverotti. He says Chevy would do anything for anybody.
“He would go to your house, help you install a fence,” Byrne said. “He knew something about everything. It could be anything, a filter for your refrigerator and he’s done it before.”
For the past eight months, he’s been fighting the rare cancer with an army beside him. Now that army is rallying around his wife, Sara, and son, Gus.
Fellow firefighters from Station 7 said they had the chance to say their last goodbyes to him Monday.
“We were able to go to his house and be there with his family and say goodbye to him one last time,” Byrne said. “We’re focused on his son, Gus, and his wife, Sara, so that kind of took the heartache away from us knowing that we need to be there for them.”
He was the captain of Engine 7 and was also a FEMA Task Force Two Search Team Manager.
His work with FEMA led him to disasters in Haiti and Puerto Rico.
Chesapeake Fire Lieutenant Blake Roberson said he met Matt through the Tech Rescue Team about seven years ago.
They were headed to a competition in Roanoke and Roberson was new to the team.
“From the moment I got there, he was very open to me and treated me just like one of the guys that had 10 or 15 years of service with the team,” Roberson said.
He said Chevy was a great leader and an excellent teacher and made him feel welcome from the start.
“We get there and we get to the first competition we have and I can barely tie a knot, like I know about two or three knots,” Roberson said, “but I am still having to learn how to work through them and he’s right there teaching me, and granted, we’re competing against other teams, but he wanted me to feel like I was just as much a part of the group as everybody else.”
Virginia Beach Fire Chief Ken Pravetz said Matt was truly one of a kind. He says he’ll always remember Chevy’s infectious smile.
“He was full throttle all the time, everybody loved him,” Pravetz said. “He got along with everybody and he was really good at what he did.”
He said the outpouring of support throughout Matt’s journey has been incredible.
Many gathered last night at thin brew line to support each other and Matt’s family, during this difficult time.
“We will make sure that any of their needs that we can meet we will jump right in,” Pravetz said. “And Matt’s son, we’ll make sure he always has a good male presence around him.”
Supporting one another, because that’s what firefighters do.
“It’s dedication that everybody together understands what we are doing and it’s good to be there for each other and lean on each other in times like Matt’s family is having,” Roberson said. “It’s a testament to the type of person that he was and the outreach he had to people in the fire service.”
Chiaverotti’s funeral arrangements are still pending, but Pravetz said several departments have already volunteered their time and manpower if Virginia Beach needs it so firefighters can attend the service.
The Virginia Beach Fire Department lost another esteemed member of the department over the weekend, as retired Deputy Chief James “Jimmy” W. Carter died Sunday, the day before Chiaverotti.
He served the department from 1970 to 2002.
Pravetz said it’s been a really tough week for the department, and they’ll continue to stand by one another during this difficult time.
The Chiaverotti family released the following statement:
“We want to express our deepest appreciation to everyone who has reached out to us after losing our beloved Captain Matt Chiaverotti (Chevy). Please know that it is your love, kindness, support, and generosity, that has carried us through the incredibly difficult journey we’ve traveled over this past year. Because of you, we have not walked alone. We have heard from so many people who were positively impacted by Chevy throughout his career. This has provided much peace and comfort to us, and for that we are eternally grateful. We will not be providing interviews at this time, as we are currently making plans for his service later this week. Once we finalize his service details, we will share that information with all of you.”
If you’d like to help the Chiaverotti family with medical bills and funeral expenses, click here.
A visitation with the Chiaverotti family will be held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center at 1000 19th St. from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 23. A celebration of life service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, April 24 at the Convention Center (Sea of Blue at 12:30 p.m.) The service will be livestreamed on the Virginia Beach Fire Department’s Facebook page.
A celebration of life for Retired Deputy Chief James “Jimmy” W. Carter will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Harry E. Diezel Fire Training Center at 927 S. Birdneck Road in Virginia Beach.
The service will be livestreamed on the Virginia Beach Fire Department’s Facebook page.