SEASIDE — The camaraderie enjoyed by the Seaside Fire and Rescue personnel was on display earlier this month, when staff, volunteers and many of their friends and family members gathered at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center for the department’s annual awards banquet and dinner.
The event recognizes the department’s firefighters and emergency service providers and the time they devoted to training and responding to calls during 2015.
“We do so much for the city of Seaside, but also the surrounding community,” said Lt. Jeramy Houston, chairman of the banquet committee. “We’ve grown so far beyond just firefighting.”
In his remarks, Mayor Don Larson also highlighted the important role played by family and friends, who are committed to supporting and encouraging the volunteers.
“You’re all vital to make this system work,” he said.
Chief Joey Daniels — who was honored with the fire officer of the year award — agreed with Larson’s sentiment.
“Without them, we wouldn’t have the volunteer department we have,” he added.
The highlight of the event was a number of awards distributed to acknowledge the accomplishments, small and large, achieved by department personnel throughout the year.
Capt. Gordon Houston and Division Chief David Rankin presented special recognition awards, a set of humorous, light-hearted recognitions such as “The Tuckered Bear Award,” “The Apparatus Destruction Award” and the “Got To Go Award.” The awards were presented along with gag gifts and amusing stories illustrating the sense of companionship fostered within the department.
The department holds drills for about two to three hours each Wednesday night. Considering all volunteers cannot make it to each drill, Genessee Dennis, 2015 president of the Seaside Fire and Rescue Association, estimated the department’s 38 volunteers still contributed nearly 2,000 cumulative training hours. The department also responded to more than 1,000 calls throughout the year; a majority of which for emergency medical services, followed by false calls, motor vehicle accidents, fires, public assistance incidents and hazardous conditions.
“There is a lot of time we will invest to serve our community,” Dennis said.
Those with the best attendance at drills received service awards. They included Evan Edwards, Matt Keefer, Shane Mergel, Roy Dague and Katie Bulletset, who attended 51 of 52 drills.
The top five call responders also received service awards. With 521 calls, Edwards was the top responder, followed by Mergel, Lisa Talamantez, Colin Houston and Noble Hutchinson.
“There are so many people who offer so much to our agency,” Daniels said.
Dennis was recognized as the EMS provider of the year and Bulletset received firefighter of the year. The officers noted Dennis’ growth as an emergency medical technician and his willingness to show up, even for late-night calls. Bulletset not only was a dedicated responder, but she also offers to help others and with tasks around the facility, like painting.
Fire officer of the year, presented by Dennis, went to Daniels. During the selection process, the firefighters made nominations and discussed the options. One of the most important aspects of being a leader, they determined, is the “ability to provide inspiration” and “translate vision into reality,” Dennis said.
“Once you adopt this attitude, people will follow suit,” he said.
The department, which has three full-time staff members and a part-time paid position, depends on volunteers, like many other departments in Clatsop County.
During the ceremony, Daniels recognized volunteers who are retiring this year, noting the department is losing “a lot of years of experience.” Among those retiring are volunteers Lt. David Oxley, Richard Nofield, Susan Oxley and Doug Barker.
Barker, who volunteered for 38 years, said it has been “a privilege and an honor” to serve the community as a volunteer firefighter.
“Really, at the bottom, it’s been a whole hell of a lot of fun,” he said. “So thank you for 38 years of fun.”
An empty table at the banquet, with a single place setting, served as a reminder of Glenn Bard, a former volunteer who died in 2012, as well as others gone since the department was established in 1904.