District officials offer an inside look at what makes staff members stay
BRUSH PRAIRIE — Clark County Fire District 3 recently recognized 11 employees and a board member for a combined total of almost 200 years of service. Award recipients ranged from five to 40 years with Fire District 3.
“We appreciate the dedication and service that our employees and board members provide to our community every day,” said Fire Chief Scott Sorenson. “We also want to thank their family members. Working in emergency services is not a nine-to-five job, and couldn’t happen without their support.”
Chief Sorenson is a 40-year veteran of Fire District 3. He joined as a volunteer firefighter during his senior year of high school, and stayed because of the close-knit community and people working at the fire district.
“We are a huge family that works to serve others in our community,” said Chief Sorenson. “I show up every day and am grateful to be with the hardworking women and men who make up this department.”
Fire Commissioner Jon Couture celebrates a combined total of 32 years with the agency. He joined as a volunteer firefighter in 1988, and started serving on the Board of Fire Commissioners in 2008. He stays at Fire District 3 because it’s an organization that “cares for others and takes care of its people.”
Five firefighters celebrated five years with Fire District 3 this year. Many came up through the ranks of the fire district’s intern, resident and volunteer firefighter programs.
• Josh Alexander became a firefighter to make a difference in someone’s life when they needed it most. He stays with Fire District 3 because he feels the values of the department are focused on self-sacrifice and providing the best service possible to the community.
• Dustin Bross was encouraged to join the fire service in 2009 as a volunteer firefighter by his now father-in-law. He’s served in three departments, but stays with Fire District 3 because it’s like a family.
• Kyle Ervin started as an intern and then volunteered until being hired on as a full-time firefighter. He knew that he wanted to be a part of Fire District 3 because of the culture, the people, the community involvement, and the progressive mentality of the organization.
• Clayton Morris decided on a career in emergency services because it challenges him mentally and physically. He says the fire station is like a second home for many who work there.
• Bryce Ponder joined Fire District 3 after completing the Fire Cadet program at his high school. He stays with the fire district because of the professionalism, comradery and the community Fire District 3 serves.
Three employees of Fire District 3 celebrated 15 years of service this year.
• Michelle Eisenbeis was selected out of more than 150 applicants to serve as Fire District 3’s Administrative Officer. She has stayed because of the leadership, her coworkers, and the agency’s commitment to helping the people it serves.
• Sean Smith worked his way up the ranks and currently serves as a battalion chief for the fire district. He started as a volunteer firefighter and even took classes at Portland Community College with Fire District 3’s now-Deputy Chief Barbara Widlund. Smith says that he stays because the department is actively engaged with the community, and respects and values the people that work there.
• Andrey Zalozh is a firefighter/paramedic with Fire District 3, who joined right after he graduated high school through the Intern Program. He stays because the fire district is growing and evolving, which provides some exciting challenges for his career in emergency services.
Captain Andrew Blomdahl and Firefighter Rob Moon were awarded for 20 years of service by Fire District 3. Blomdahl joined Fire District 3 as a volunteer firefighter while he was pursuing a career in the fire service. He says that it’s the values and culture of the organization that keeps him there. Moon started volunteering in 1999 and was hired in 2004. As a lifelong resident of Venersborg, he stays because the fire district has offered him an opportunity to protect, serve and help the people with whom he has grown up.
Fire District 3 is a “combination department.” This means it relies on full-time, part-time and volunteer emergency personnel to respond to calls. Fire District 3 is actively recruiting for its intern, resident and volunteer firefighter programs now.
Clark County Fire District 3 provides fire and life safety services to 40,000 people in east Clark County, including the city of Battle Ground. Forty-eight full-time and 12 volunteer emergency personnel responded to 4,301 calls in 2019. Fire District 3 operates under a balanced budget and has passed all its financial and accountability audits by the state. More information on Fire District 3 can be found on its website www.fire3.org.