Captain Dave Berg Retires

A career in the fire service means dedicating yourself to helping others. Captain Dave Berg not only embodied this goal, he made it a 32-year mission.

Dave began his career as a resident firefighter at Pierce County Fire District 7 in Spanaway in 1989. Three years later, he was hired by the Auburn Fire Department, now VRFA. He became a Firefighter/Public Information and Education Specialist in 1994 and promoted to Captain in 2012.

Very early in his career, Dave set out to make a difference in the lives of children. He taught fire safety and injury prevention to countless students over an 18-year span on the AFD and VRFA Public Information and Education teams. Known as “Firefighter Dave,” he never failed to elicit smiles and laughter during his classroom visits.

“Watching Dave teach is truly magical. He has an innate ability to connect with children and impart knowledge that has undoubtedly saved lives. He does it all with humor and fun. The kids in his classes remember him for years afterward,” said Kimberly Terhune, VRFA Public Education and Information Officer.

In addition to teaching, Berg organized softball tournaments and other events to raise funds for child burn survivors. Dave also assisted with the Toys for Kids drive, providing holiday gifts for struggling families. For these outstanding community outreach efforts and excellent job performance, Dave received the 2004 City of Auburn Employee of the Year award. Berg also consistently received nominations for both Firefighter and Fire Officer of the year.

While being a firefighter enabled him to connect with community members, co-workers will tell you that Dave knows his job well and never fails to be there for them. Dave feels that mentoring new firefighters was one of his most important duties.

“When you move from the role of firefighter to Captain, your focus shifts from taking care of yourself to watching out for your crew and trying to mold them into their best selves. I wanted them to know I cared about them and that it was important to enjoy each day and have fun,” said Berg.

Though much of his work was very visible, Berg also worked behind the scenes to create and manage the department’s pre-incident plans (PIP). He was solely responsible for this program for 24 years, quietly creating hundreds of PIP’s for buildings in the VRFA service area. This work greatly enhanced firefighter safety and efficiency by allowing crews the chance to familiarize themselves with a building on the way to an emergency call.

“Dave is a natural leader who has the rare ability to be confident without being arrogant, demanding without being threatening, and competent without being showy. He leads by example without trying to draw attention to himself. Dave has put 32 years into the fire service and is still looking for ways to innovate. Most importantly, Dave has been a mentor to every firefighter who has had the good fortune to be assigned to him.  I enjoyed every talk that I ever had with Dave and will miss his humor and good advice. We wish him a long and fruitful retirement,” said Chief Brent Swearingen.