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Sandy Fire honors members who demonstrated dedication to service

At a recent meeting, exceptional emergency personnel were recognized for their service


The Sandy Fire District announced award recipients during its annual banquet Jan. 5. Fire department members who have shown exemplary character, work ethic and commitment to service received awards and recognition.

The individuals listed below have demonstrated the ability to work under extreme pressure and the desire to learn and teach, said Sandy Fire Chief Gary McQueen.

The training officer and the instructors who teach the class choose the probationary firefighter of the year, while the volunteer membership chooses the firefighter of the year and officer of the year.

And the winner is . . .

n Volunteer firefighter Felipe Zamora (probationary firefighter of the year) responded to 317 alarms and served as a crew member 52 times, staffing the station both days and evenings. Zamora spent countless hours at the station, assisted with community events and is consistently helpful and with a friendly attitude.

n Volunteer firefighter Christian Fritz (firefighter of the year) responded to 499 alarms. Fritz staffed the station on days, evenings and weekends. Cumulatively, he worked 191 shifts. While these numbers and activities seem impressive individually, when you look at his service as a whole his achievements are more impressive. During the past year, Fritz spent more than 2,300 hours providing service to the communities in the district. Fritz also leads the explorer posts; helps with recruit drills; and just finished paramedic school.

n Volunteer Capt. Martin Grassl (officer of the year) responded to 247 alarms and standbys, staffed 45 duty officer shifts and attended 144 training hours. New members often choose him as a mentor because he inspires professionalism.

While Capt. Grassl trains firefighters, McQueen said, he does so with a constantly smiling face and a contagious positive attitude. Grassl assisted in several volunteer committees, he said, and has inspired great leaders within the volunteer organization.

And that is likely the reason Grassl has received this award nine times, including for the past seven consecutive years.

“He is dependable and community oriented,” McQueen said, “and always willing to help.”

n Former education and public information officer Alice Busch was selected as employee of the year because of her display of grace and humility during her final year with the district. Even after her job was reduced to part time, McQueen said, she continued to do her best to serve, inform and educate our citizens.

“She was a very hard-working person,” he said, “who genuinely cared for her co-workers and the community. Her knowledge and enthusiasm shown through in everything she did. Her 14 years with Sandy Fire District not only made a huge impact on the fire department but also the Sandy community.”

n The PRIDE awards (Professionalism, Responsibility, Integrity, Dedication and Education) represent the core values of the fire district. Recipients are chosen based on their attitude and actions that demonstrate the elements of what the fire district believes characterize a true public servant and professional team member.

“Their service over and above emergency response communicates to the public and their co-workers the depth of their commitment,” McQueen said. “Their contributions inspire and instill others with confidence that individuals can and do make a difference.”

PRIDE firefighter winners: Justin Hernandez, Doug Dietrich, Jeremy Parker, Casey O’Donnell, Duston Yacapin, Glenn Yeager, Laurie Smallwood, Chris Sparks and David Evans.

Board Award

n The 2012 board award was given to retired chief John Johnson, who joined the Sandy Fire Department as a volunteer in 1960 prior to the legal formation of Sandy Rural Fire Protection District No. 72. He served the district for 15 years and retired in 1975 as an assistant chief. Johnson was a member of the fire district during a turbulent time when the district hired a new fire chief from New Jersey. Nearly half of the volunteers at that time quit, but Johnson stayed. He worked on the Sandy volunteer ambulance for six years.

He felt strongly about caring for victims, especially after providing initial services. He tried to implement a program that would provide follow-up to make sure the victims were doing OK. He felt that the human side of those experiences needed to be taken care of by someone. This eventually turned into the district’s chaplain program.

Johnson was a flight instructor for 38 years. In some cases, he flew injured workers from his worksites to the hospital, helping to save their lives. In that role, he was an early version of LifeFlight.

Other recognition

n 35 years of service: Lt. Ron Schneider

n 25 years of service: Firefighter Kip Courser.

n 20 years of service: Firefighters Mark Gunderson and Gary McLean.

n 15 years of service: Firefighters Rex Sconce and Joe Johaneson.

n 10 years of service: Photographer Robyn Wolf, Lt. David Holmes, firefighters Jon McKay, Sean Kelly and Travis Syring, and board member Andrew Brian.

n Five years of service: Firefighters Robert Oun, Laurie Smallwood and Jon Turcotte.

New firefighters

Also at the banquet, the following firefighters were sworn to service after completing a year of training:

Shawn Crawford, Justin Hernandez, Quentin Hines, Kyle Konell, James McCamman, Steve Merchant, Trent Morrison, Collin Olcott, Nate Parker, Ron Warren, Nicholas Waters and Felipe Zamora.

Volunteer association officers

Jeremy Parker, president; Dale Clarke, second vice president; Casey O’Donnell, first vice president; Glenn Yeager, secretary; Doug Dietrich, treasurer; and Brandon Tidd, sergeant at arms.

The district’s firefighters, which include 80 percent volunteers and 20 percent career staff, provided 38,780 hours of service to the community in 2012.

They also provided emergency services at a record 1,886 alarms in 2012.

For more information, call McQueen at 503-668-8093.