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Passing Of The Torch Sees New Chief For Farmington
Farm fire chief
Making the move up from Assistant Chief, Matt Bailey has officially taken over as Chief at the Farmington Fire Department, following the retirement earlier this year of longtime Chief Conni Bailey. Marg Jackson/The Times

He started out as a volunteer firefighter in 1991 and his career has included stints with several other departments in the region but Matt Bailey is settling in to a new post; he has taken over as Farmington Fire Chief.

The position became vacant with the recent retirement of former longtime chief – and also Bailey’s mother – Conni Bailey and the torch of leadership has been passed from mother to son.

Bailey had been serving as assistant chief for the past few years and was in line for the chief position as his mom began considering retirement. She left the full-time post earlier this year. Conni Bailey started as a volunteer with Farmington Fire Department in 1985. She became a captain in 1990 and served as Fire Chief from 1996 through early 2022.

New Chief Bailey, an Escalon High School graduate, grew up in the field, and has served as a volunteer, captain, battalion chief and assistant chief with Farmington before taking over as Fire Chief.

“He moved up the ranks,” Conni said.

Chief Matt Bailey has also worked for French Camp and Thornton fire departments in various capacities including engineer, lieutenant and interim chief.

He went through Escalon Unified School District schools including Farmington and Dent elementary schools, El Portal Middle School and Escalon High School.

Former Fire Captain John Kalebaugh has moved into the assistant chief role.

“We have 11 volunteers, with five or six that consistently respond to calls,” said the new Chief Bailey.

The chief is a paid position and there is also a part-time firefighter paid position filled by Cameron Kennedy. Members of the Farmington Fire Board include Chairperson Kelly Ogilvie, Vice Chair Frank Bracco, Secretary/Treasurer Cleve ‘Butch’ Latini, Jeremiah Mulvihill and Chris Lemos.

Former chief Conni Bailey said the district encompasses just under 100 square miles, ranging from Dodds Road on the south, Copperopolis Road to the north, east to the county line and west to the area of Jack Tone and Mariposa roads.

And while the former chief will still lend expertise and respond to some calls, she said it is nice not having to put on a uniform every day after all these years.

She also has been meticulous in keeping records that should help the new chief with the day to day operations.

“Everything is in the file,” she said.