Each year the Valley Regional Fire Authority celebrates employee achievements by recognizing a Firefighter and Fire Officer of the Year, plus awarding a member who exemplifies one of the organization’s core values: selfless service, integrity, and grit. Chosen by their co-workers, this year’s recipients are Firefighter of the Year Aaron Martin, Fire Officer of the Year Bill Mack, and Grit Award winner Jeremy Elliott.
Firefighter of the Year
Firefighter of the Year Aaron Martin, a nine-year veteran of the VRFA, takes on many extra duties in support of his community and co-workers. He currently serves as a Public Information and Education Specialist, delivering safety messages to the community, and assists new employees as part of the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC). In addition, he helps co-workers with job-related stressors as a member of the Peer Support Team.
As noted in his award nominations, Aaron displays exemplary skill in all aspects of the job. He is a tactician on the fire ground and a thoughtful and thorough Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Aaron is known for being a friendly, helpful, positive, team-oriented member of his crew, station, and the VRFA. His crew members say he is always willing to lend a hand, ready to work hard to accomplish tasks and goals, reliable, and true to his word. (AE note: We have worked numerous times with Aaron. He has always been great to work with and we look forward to continuing to do so in the future).
Fire Officer of the Year
Battalion Chief Bill Mack was selected as Fire Officer of the Year for his work in developing a capital facilities plan (CFP) for the VRFA. This document was a first for the VRFA and will guide the department for the next ten years. It will help determine new fire stations, equipment, and staffing to keep up with the growing demand for Fire/EMS services.
Mack has served the citizens of Algona, Auburn, and Pacific for 29 years. In 2020 he accepted a temporary Deputy Chief promotion to work on the CFP. During this same time period, he worked eight weeks in a temporary capacity as Deputy Chief of Technical Services and chaired a fire station design committee. In November, after completing his assignments, he returned to shift as a Battalion Chief.
VRFA Grit Award
Grit is a core value of the VRFA defined by perseverance, passion, resilience, and optimism. It is a never-quit attitude that reflects determination, focus, and endurance. Firefighter Jeremy Elliott is the recipient of the VRFA Grit Award.
Jeremy’s co-workers report a consistent display of grit since he was hired by the Auburn Fire Department, now VRFA in 2002. They note that he is constantly striving to improve himself and others. And, despite experiencing setbacks and adversity, he continues to learn, grow and remain optimistic in pursuing his career goals. Jeremy’s character, leadership, and commitment to do his best every day embody the meaning of the VRFA Grit Award.
Along with firefighting duties, Elliott serves as a mentor for apprentice firefighters, is a Hazardous Material Specialist, participates on the JATC committee, and is an acting captain.
The above is a press release from VRFA. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents.