Matt Porcari, age 34, was a volunteer captain of the Owego Fire Department’s Croton Hose Company #3, home of the “Flat Rats,” who perished while battling a mutual aid structure fire.
Matt entered the fire service at the age of sixteen as an apprentice firefighter, following in the footsteps of his father, John; his grandfather, Pete Porcari; and his uncle, Lester Dunham. For more than half his life he served the Owego community with steadfast dedication matched by very few in the department. Matt was a proud “Flat Rat,” a name affectionately given to residents living in the “Flats,” the area of the village where his family lives. Flat Rats have certain qualities about them, all of which are exemplified by Matt. They always have each other’s backs, are never afraid to voice and stand up for their beliefs, and always, always are there when needed.
Growing up three doors down from Owego Station #3 and later living four blocks away, Matt was usually one of the first people to get to the station for a call. Whether it was a motor vehicle accident, smell of gas, or working structure fire, when the fire whistle sounded he was there to serve the Owego community time and time again. His call duty went beyond his own community. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Matt went on a weeklong mutual aid detail to Long Island, New York, where he assisted in their recovery from the storm. This commitment to the fire service as a whole was also shown when Matt organized a group a firefighters to travel to West Webster, New York to support that department after two of its members where savagely killed by a gunman in December 2012.
As soon as Matt joined the department, he started firematic hose racing just like his father and grandfathers before him. Hose races are timed events where firefighters test their skills. Matt was so good at the sport that he was a member of the youngest team in history to win the Central New York tournament. He hose raced every year until his death. The hose team also participated in the Firemen’s Association of New York (FASNY) Winter Games, where Matt was leader of the pack and social chair for the rest of the departments staying at the team’s hotel. He always represented the Owego Fire Department with pride.
He was a family man in every sense of the word—a loving father to his children, big brother to his sister, Tammy, and husband to the love of his life, Christina. Owego still carries a heavy heart for the loss of one of its favorite sons.
Matt is also survived by his mother, Cheri.