For the second year in a row, volunteer Matt McDaniel of the Birch Bay fire station was named Firefighter of the Year for Fire District 13, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Services (NWFRS), at the district’s annual banquet April 2.
McDaniel was also recognized for the second year in a row as the Most Improved Firefighter for the Birch Bay station and along with Tamara Ross, was named emergency medical technician (EMT) of the year for District 13.
A plumber with Bay Point Plumbing & Heating, McDaniel, 43, lives in Birch Bay with his wife Korry and sons Nicholas, eight, and Alexander 10. Their daughter Jaime, 24, lives in Sacramento, California.
McDaniel joined the department in April of 2001. “He’s been by far the best responder this year for the entire NWFRS,” said district 13 division chief Jim Rutherford, “With something over 300 calls made in 2004, McDaniel covered 278 calls out of the Birch Bay station with the remaining coming out of shifts he covered at the Blaine station on Odell Road.”
Rutherford said that McDaniel has also gone well beyond what’s normally expected in terms of seeking out additional training, which is why he was awarded the most improved citation. “It doesn’t mean they’re rookies, just that they’ve done more than expected in upgrading their skills.”
EMT of the year award was based on McDaniel’s being “one of the first volunteers to step up to plate to learn how to do basic life support transport to the hospital,” Rutherford adding, “he’s been very involved in that as things are changing in the county.”
McDaniel is one of roughly 50 volunteer firefighters in district 13. Since the establishment of the NWFRS, new volunteers are expected to earn their EMT credentials within their first year of service. Paid firefighters must have their EMT to apply for employment with the two districts in the NWFRS.
Other award winners at the banquet include Leadership and Instructor of the Year (two awards), Mike Schmidt, Most Inspirational, John Swobody, Rookie of the Year, Jim Deming, Rookie of the Year and EMT of the year, Tamara Ross, and Most Improved Firefighters, Nick Askew, Tracy Burke, Jessica King and McDaniel.
For information on volunteering call district 13 at 371-2533, or the NWFRS at 318-9933.