Congratulations to the Valley Regional Fire Authority firefighter of the year 2019 for their exceptional service and rescue efforts.

2019 Outstanding Employees Recognized

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. Recipients are chosen by their co-workers.  For 2019, Firefighter Erika Bartlett was selected as Firefighter of the Year and Captain Ryan Freed as Fire Officer of the Year. Human Resources Manager Sarah Borden was chosen for the Selfless Service Award,

Firefighter of the year Erika Bartlett has worked for VRFA for eight years, serves as a Medical Program Specialist (MPS) and has been instrumental in establishing a peer support program to support the mental well-being of her fellow employees.

Erika has led the peer support program since its inception and has devoted countless hours working in regional meetings, attending trainings, developing plans, securing resources and helping to put the program in place. All of this has been in addition to her duties as a Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician and Medical Program Specialist.

“Erika displays the behavior and actions of a leader. She is professional, knowledgeable, and good at her job. Her attitude, work ethic and passion for helping others is evident in her work and she excels in her role as a member of the MPS team. She is able to accomplish large tasks because of her positive demeanor and is an excellent firefighter. Erika is positive, a team player, and a good communicator. She has integrity and courage and is always willing to help out. Her work on the peer support team has been invaluable to our members and department,” said Captain Melina Kuzaro.

Captain Ryan Freed has served the citizens of Algona, Auburn and Pacific for ten years and was selected for Fire Officer of the Year while working in the role of planning captain for Support Services.

Ryan has made significant contributions to the development of a Standards of Cover document, the most recent VRFA Strategic Plan, and the ongoing process of accreditation. This work lays out a comprehensive path for the VRFA and will benefit our citizens and employees for many years into the future.

“Ryan is an exemplary, outgoing professional, who always carries himself with professionalism. He works to develop a positive and inclusive team environment and is dedicated to the organization and members. He has stepped up as a leader, and is doing great things for not only the VRFA, but the fire service as a whole,” said Battalion Chief Paul Strong.

Sarah Borden is the recipient of the Selfless Service award. She joined the VRFA in 2014 as the Human Resources Manager.  In her role, Sarah is responsible for the recruitment and hiring of new employees, promotional testing, administering employee benefits and contracts, labor relations and a myriad of other duties.  Sarah is known for her ability to juggle many diverse tasks with the utmost professionalism and speed, all while striving to create a fun and supportive environment for those around her.

“Sarah is always looking out for others, is dedicated to her family and her VRFA family. Selfless could be her middle name as she displays that value every day. She balances work-life in a positive light and is incredibly giving of herself. Sarah’s honesty, empathy and respect of privacy has created a human resources trust level that we are extremely grateful to have,” said Deputy Chief Dave Larberg.