By Leslie Hynes | South County Fire

Snohomish County, Wash., – South County Fire recently honored employees, volunteers and citizens in a virtual award presentation that took the place of the regional fire authority’s annual recognition banquet canceled due to the pandemic.

Betty McAulay
Volunteer of the Year Betty McAulay. Source: South County Fire.

2020 Pandemic Response Recognition:  South County Fire has been on the frontline of the pandemic from the start, transporting the first patient in the country last January. Plaques will be placed at Headquarters and all fire stations to recognize the tireless response efforts, collaboration and dedication of employees within all levels of the regional fire authority to prepare and to protect each other and the public.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Betty McAulay. As a 13-year volunteer with the Lynnwood Fire Department and now South County Fire, McAulay has assisted at community events and provided blood pressure checks at Lynnwood Civic Center Fire Station 15, the Lynnwood Senior Center, Brighton Court and information booths.

Lifesaving Award:  Lydia and Madelyn Hostetler. Sisters Lydia and Madelyn Hostetler were honored for their quick actions at a September house fire in Edmonds. They made sure everyone got out of the house safely and used a fire extinguisher to keep the fire in check until firefighters arrived.  Without their efforts, the outcome could have been devastating.

Meritorious Service Awards:

  • Captain Todd Wigal was instrumental in developing and implementing a program to streamline information sharing and decision making, up and down the chain of command, using subject matter experts throughout the organization. The new structure has already proven its value in many ways, the largest being deployment of new, more effective hose and nozzles on all fire apparatus.
  • Public Information Officer Leslie Hynes has delivered life safety education and information about emergency incidents for over 23 years. She has been a backbone to community events and other community engagement projects, newsletters, website development, ballot measures, as well as being a founding member of the Fire One Foundation, now the South County Firefighter Foundation.

Distinguished Service Awards:

  • Assistant Fire Marshal Aaron Huckstep was recognized for his leadership, professionalism and innovation in support of the Fire Prevention Division.
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Ted Martin and Firefighter Jake Hepper were recognized for the empathy and support they provided to a young family following a traumatic incident.
  • Incident Commander/Battalion Chief Mike Vanderpoel; Battalion Chief Steve Mason; Captains Moi Castellon and Neil Young; Firefighter/Paramedics Corey Dowell, Eric Larson and Blake Watt; Firefighters Eric Anderson, John Dorsey and David Erickson were on the first arriving units at a fatal fire and risked their lives to work with other responders to passionately attempt victim rescue, fire extinguishment and quickly care for and transport the injured.

Special Unit Citation: Captain Sean Torey, Firefighter/Paramedic Monte Pfeil and Firefighter Kyle Almeida were honored for their role in a rescue of four adults who ended up in the water when their boat started to sink in windy, choppy conditions off the Port of Edmonds.

Seth Kurtz
Civilian Employee of the Year Seth Kurtz. Source: South County Fire.
Derek Roberts
Firefighter of the Year Captain Derek Roberts. Source: South County Fire.

Civilian Employee of the Year: Seth Kurtz. Kurtz, a facilities staff member, was honored for carrying out his endless duties with kindness and a friendly attitude.

Firefighter of the Year:  Captain Derek Roberts.  Over the last two years, Roberts made a significant impact in his Training Division assignment to support veteran firefighters as well as recruits in the Fire Training Academy. He has become a trusted mentor, teacher, motivator and big brother to many firefighters hired since 2019.


South County Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to more than 250,000 residents of Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and unincorporated south Snohomish County.

Mario Lotmore

Mario Lotmore is originally from The Bahamas and for the last seven years has called Mukilteo, WA his home. Having lived in every region of the United States has exposed him to various cultures, people, and approaches to life. Lotmore created the Lynnwood Times to represent the character of a diverse and growing Lynnwood. The launching of the city’s free community newspaper will only help bring neighborhoods together. Lotmore was an industrial engineer by trade and proven success implementing and managing lean accountable processes and policies within his eighteen years of operations excellence, strategic development, and project management in the aerospace, manufacturing, and banking industries. Over his career he has saved and created hundreds of union and non-union jobs. Lotmore is the President of a Homeowner Association, an active Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics volunteer in his community, and former Boeing 747 Diversity Council leader. Mario’s talent is finding “that recipe” of shared destiny to effectively improve the quality of life for others.

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