Gresham Fire and Emergency Services' 2018 Awards Ceremony recognized the men and women within the department who sacrificed time, hard work and personal safety to keep the community safe last year.
The event, held Friday evening, Jan. 25, filled Gresham City Council Chambers with firefighters, their friends and loved ones. Nominations for the awards came from fellow firefighters, with final decisions made by an awards panel within the department.
Fittingly, several recipients of the awards could not attend the ceremony because they were on duty throughout the city.
Lt. Anthony Foster was named Firefighter of the Year for being a "great paramedic and great firefighter." Foster was described as being someone who always had people's backs, whether on call or not.
"He is a leader among his peers," said Capt. Travis Soles, the awards committee chairman.
Capt. Deputy Fire Marshal Shawn Durham was named Employee of the Year.
Three Exceptional Service Awards were presented during the event. Recipients included Lt. Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Mottice, Firefighter Joseph Griffin, and Firefighter Chandra Holestine and Lt. Lloyd Nickson for forming a peer support program.
"Some of the stuff we see is pretty horrific, so the peer support program is a way to train our people in guiding anyone who has a 'nick in the armor' back," Soles said.
The Special Unit Citation Award went to firefighters from both Portland and Gresham for their efforts in resuscitating and saving a newborn baby's life. They include Lt. Sean Fogarty and firefighters Kyle Jensen, Chris Robison, Cody Trestrail, Caleb Pearson, Saaddedine Dichari, William Eddy, Charles Sabella, Capt. Jeffrey Dana and Battalion Chief Mike Traeger.
Both Capt. Josh Butler and firefighter Michael Stuck were honored with Distinguished Conduct Awards for their heroic actions during a flashover fire that went south quickly, ensuring everyone made it out safely.
"Those guys were able to make the right calls and get everyone out safely," said Battalion Chief Eric Lofgren.
Three citizen lifesaver awards were presented to community members who made a difference before emergency personnel could arrive at the scene. Melissa Ozmore, Lori Schmit and Shawn Fuller were all recognized. Ozmore performed lifesaving CPR for a child at Blue Lake Regional Park; Schmit, who works for the Gresham Police Department, helped a man who was choking in the lobby of the department; and Fuller stopped a wildfire outside his apartment that had been deliberately set.
Providence ElderPlace received the Community Award.
"This is our way of tipping our hats to those who go above and beyond," Soles said.
During the event, newly appointed Fire Chief Mitch Snyder was sworn into office alongside Fire Inspector Brandon Baird. Snyder joins Gresham after 35 years of experience rising up through the ranks in various departments across Washington.
"It's been a pleasure to have this chief be here with us," said Superintendent of Public Safety Corey Falls. "Chief Snyder is the right guy at the right time. He exemplifies everything our city stands for."
Many of Snyder's former colleagues at the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority made the drive from northeastern Washington to see their friend.
"I am so humbled and honored to stand here in front of you as fire chief of Gresham," Snyder said. "Everyone in this city has been kind, warm and welcoming."
The ceremony also recognized the recruit graduates of class 17-01, celebrated those receiving promotions and honored many for milestones in their years of service. Battalion Chief Traeger hit the longest mark with 30 years of service for Gresham Fire.
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