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Celebrating Seattle Fire Department’s Finest

At today’s Awards Luncheon, Seattle Fire recognized these people for their contributions to our community.

Employees of the Year Awards

These individuals have demonstrated incredible service to both our internal and external customers, performing above and beyond expectations.

Community Service Award: Firefighter Travis Stanley

Seattle Fire is a vital part of the community, and this award recognizes a member who has donated considerable time and effort voluntarily for the betterment of the community.

Customer Service Award: Margie Viall

In a service organization, great customer service is something that is expected of all employees; however, this individual continually exceeds everyone’s expectations.

Employee of the Year: Julie George

Employee of the Year is awarded to the non-uniform member who carries out responsibilities in an exemplary fashion, always promoting a can-do attitude.

Firefighter of the Year: Firefighter Andrew Finseth

The Firefighter of the Year is given to someone who has a high regard for customer service, dedication to excellence and innovation and serves as a role model for others.

Officer of the Year: Lieutenant Tobin Graves

Company Officers are responsible for providing support, guidance and direction to their crews every single day. They are the ones ensuring that the Department responds quickly and safely to each emergency. They are constantly serving the needs of their crew and the community.

Chief of the Year: Battalion Chief Matt Rogers

In much the same way that company officers support their crews, Chiefs are responsible for ensuring that their members, battalions and divisions are prepared for whatever comes their way.  

Lifetime Achievement Award: Lieutenant Ed Peterson

The Seattle Fire Department is a place of incredible loyalty and dedication. This award recognizes the person who has devoted much of their life in service through the Seattle Fire Department.

Unit Citation (1) and associated Certificates of Recognition/Letters of Appreciation (3)

This next award recognizes actions performed by a unit or work group in both hazardous and non-hazardous conditions.

In January 2018, Deena Hernandez’s life was saved by actions of multiple local agencies.

For their parts in a water rescue in January 2018, Medic 32, Engine 32 and Engine 37 are receiving a unit citation.

We are also recognizing personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, Washington State Ferries and Harborview Medical Center for their role.

Administrative Citation

The following administrative citation is for fire department units or work groups that performed with a degree of excellence or proficiency that sets the unit apart.

Our award is given to Lieutenant Jon Goins, Lieutenant Josh Pearson, Paramedic Michael Mann and Chief Warehouser Sundae Garner.

Over two months last summer, the Seattle Fire and Seattle Police departments trained together on responding to an active shooter situation.

As part of that, firefighters practiced using ballistic gear, an unfortunate reality of our time. The shared protocol with Seattle Police, the extensive investment of time to develop and conduct the training as well as the work to develop new policy and deploy the protective gear could not have happened without the contributions of these four.

Commendations (13 presentations)

Now we will recognize those receiving commendations, which honor individual actions performed with excellence.

Flow & Move Training

Leaning into his high level of technical knowledge and fire experience, Lieutenant Ian Bennett created and implemented the Seattle Fire Department’s Flow and Move training to better train firefighters in fire attack on the hose line.

Lieutenant Bennett developed curriculum, assembled and trained a cadre of instructors and delivered a block of instruction that is concise, fire science-based and well received.

Aerial Operators Academy

Lieutenants Steve Crothers and Tim Frank dedicated a significant amount of their time developing and delivering the Seattle Fire Department’s first aerial operator academy, which launched in 2018.

They took on this effort through their own initiative, which also represented a significant and positive shift in culture for the Operations division. This shift will improve truck company operational effectiveness throughout the city, resulting in a higher level of service to our community.

Elevator Rescue Class

Battalion Chief Geoff Wall and Firefighter Josh Materi partnered to develop and deliver an elevator rescue class for ladder companies, which is advancing the department’s skill set and safety of elevator operations.

Because of this class, 42 companies from Seattle Fire and another 27 from around King County have grown in their proficiency at elevator rescue. The fire department now has new, more effective elevator rescue techniques that will enhance safety for firefighters and members of the public they serve.

Hosebed Reconfiguration

Battalion Chief Casey Phillips, Firefighter Matt Lujan (Loo-Hawn) and Firefighter Aaron Fields came up with a new way of configuring the hose bed layout on engines.

Because of their extensive understanding of hydraulics, hose deployment models and water flows required to fight all types of fires, the three of them could implement this highly-effective new layout. They also coordinated the necessary resources to update engines and delivered the necessary training for personnel.

Logistics Support

For many years, Firefighters Roger Bianchi and Scott Kallstrom have coordinated logistical support for all manner of Seattle Fire Department activities, including special events, large-scale training exercises, ceremonial events and memorials. As Senior Logisticians, Firefighters Bianchi and Kallstrom have become a valuable pair for procuring, delivering and deploying fire department equipment.

Off-Duty HWY 101 Rescue

While travelling near the summit of Mount Walker on Highway 101 last May, Firefighter Paul Guerra came upon the scene of a motorcyclist who had collided with a pickup truck pulling a large carnival trailer.

Firefighter Guerra provided medical assistance to this critically wounded individual until local first responders arrived. Even after they were on scene, Firefighter Guerra continued to help the crews prepare the patient for airlift.

Off-Duty CPR in Oahu

Lieutenant Spencer Nelson and his family were vacationing in Oahu in February of last year when he became aware of a woman being pulled from the surf at Shark’s Cove.

She wasn’t breathing.

He scrambled down two cliffs to the patient and performed CPR until local first responders were able to get to the scene.

Lt. Nelson continued to assist the crews with transporting the patient up the difficult trail path to the staged medic unit.

Off-Duty I-5 Motorcycle Accident

In late December, Firefighters Landon Lopez and Marissa Luchau (Lou-chow) were headed southbound on I-5 near Federal Way when they encountered the scene of a high-speed motorcycle accident.

The injured individual was found at the end of a debris field almost 200 yards long and had lost an arm and part of their leg. Together, the two of them quickly began helping the patient, providing assistance instrumental in saving the victim’s life.

Seafair Water Rescue

On August 3, while assigned to Seafair as one of Seattle Fire’s rescue swimmer team members, Firefighter John Gorman observed an adult man and two children in the water.

Rescue swimmers made contact with the man and were told several times that their assistance was unneeded.

Soon after, Firefighter Gorman saw the man and one child go underwater. He immediately went in the water, pulling the man and child out while a nearby boat pulled the second child to safety.

Off-Duty Snoqualmie Summit Rescue

Last April, Lieutenant Joshua McBride came upon a serious multi-vehicle accident near the Snoqualmie summit.

In assessing the scene, Lieutenant McBride found the most seriously injured patient in a van unconscious and not breathing.

He got into the van and adjusted the seat, which allowed the man to begin breathing. Once first responders arrived, Lieutenant McBride helped extricate the man and prepare him for medical transport.

Off-Duty I-5 Collision

Last February, during a winter morning commute to Seattle, Firefighter Chris Quinlan witnessed a pickup going the opposite direction crash into a section of jersey barrier on I-5 near Chehalis.

Firefighter Quinlan pulled over, called 9-1-1 and directed traffic as best he could with a flashlight. Despite his efforts, two semi-tractor trailers hit the pickup, causing it to burst into flames.

He leapt over the barrier, ran to the pickup and pulled the victim out to safety.

For this, the Chehalis Fire Department awarded Firefighter Quinlan with the Medal of Valor. And in case you are wondering, yes, he made it to his debit shift at Station 33.

This is not the only act of service Firefighter Quinlan is being recognized for today.

Off-Duty Tree Fall Incident

While at home last fall, he responded to an emergency happening right next door. A man had been topping a tree and fallen about 40 feet to the ground, with the top half of the tree falling on him.

Firefighter Quinlan cut the limbs and trunk of the tree, and with the help of his wife and two daughters, rolled the remaining pieces off of the victim. Firefighter Quinlan re-assessed the man and removed a rope that was around the man’s neck. He helped the Mossyrock volunteer fire crews in preparing the man for airlift.

Off-Duty Brush Fire

On August 19, Firefighter Paul Hansen and his family came upon a brush fire near his neighbor’s home. After alerting the neighbors and calling 9-1-1, Firefighter Hansen donned his Seattle Fire coveralls and drove his backhoe through the flames to clear brush, trees and objects ahead of the fire.

He continued to work his backhoe until it overheated.

At that point, he transitioned to help the responding firefighters with their hose line. In all, he continued to assist the local fire department for the next few days until all hot spots were extinguished.

Meritorious Achievement

This award recognizes a fire department member who has invested a significant amount of time or effort in activities outside their regular scope of work.

Firefighter Jonathan Helton is receiving the Meritorious Achievement Award for his initiative to develop a program to educate, train and provide coordination among the department’s pump operators.

Through this effort, Firefighter Helton has increased and elevated the operations of pump operators at fire scenes.

His vast knowledge and experience, coupled with a high level of initiative and commitment to excellence, has allowed him to create a training program that increases the department’s ability to save lives and protect property.

Certificate of Recognition

We would like to take a few minutes to acknowledge members of the community and other agencies for their contributions to the safety of others.

Vault Response Team

This first Certificate of Recognition is given to members of Seattle City Light. Seattle Fire and Seattle City Light formalized in June a first of its kind in the nation partnership for fighting electrical vault fires.

But the work between the department and Seattle City Light goes back several years.

Having the only true Vault Response Team in the nation would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of:

  • Brian Belger 
  • Hamad Zadehgol 
  • Bernie Ziemianek 
  • Lester Eastlick,
  • Charles Mahar 
  • Nhut Nguyen and
  • Michelle Vargo

Their contribution continues to this day, and we thank each of you for your efforts.

Rotary Service Above Self

The Seattle Rotary Service Above Self Award recognizes community members who demonstrate care and concern for those in need, give selflessly of their time and resources to improve our community, and inspire others to take similar actions.

Harbor Island Rescue

Jason Maxwell was working on the dock of Terminal 18 at Harbor Island last August when his attention was directed to something floating in the water about 100 feet east of the dock. Realizing it was a person, he called for help, jumped into the water and swam over to the unconscious person. Jason assisted in getting him into a small boat and provided CPR until the boat could be lifted by crane onto Terminal 18 where the paramedics continued with the resuscitation. Jason put himself in great danger to make that rescue.

They are exemplars of the Rotary model of “Service Above Self” and the Seattle Fire Department’s mission of professional, effective and compassionate service. Congratulations to all the recipients of today’s awards!