Valley Regional Fire Authority's Firefighter officer of the year 2019, recognized for their exceptional service and rescue skills.

Valley Regional Fire Authority Announces 2022 Annual Employee Award Recipients

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. Chosen by their coworkers, the 2022 award recipients include Firefighter of the Year, Drew Mattheis; Fire Officer of the Year, Battalion Chief Matt Kinnee; and the VRFA Selfless Service Award winner, Systems Analyst Thomas Downs.

Firefighter of the Year Drew Mattheis is a 10-year veteran of the VRFA. He is deeply dedicated to the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) and has spent many hours helping improve the program’s efficiencies, which will be invaluable for its long-term success. Drew was also instrumental in successfully implementing the new Tractor Drawn Aerial ladder truck. He provided insight during the design process and delivered driving training as an instructor. “Drew is an exceptional firefighter; you would be fortunate to have him show up for your emergency. He holds himself to a high standard. His dedication to passing knowledge to apprentice firefighters ensures that future generations will have the skill sets required to mitigate any emergency,” says Battalion Chief Steve Zehnder.

Battalion Chief Matt Kinnee was selected as Fire Officer of the Year for his thoughtfulness and positivity. BC Kinnee is a 16-year veteran and the pulse of forward-thinking, direction, and movement for the VRFA. He was instrumental in designing and implementing the VRFA’s first “Post Academy,” where probationary firefighters spend an intensive week learning more about the organization and its operations before reporting to 24-hour shift duty. He aims to develop firefighters to perform at their best to improve service to the communities we serve. “BC Kinnee is humble, remembers his roots, and relies on experiences and knowledge while enthusiastically adapting to new challenges,” says a coworker. He serves as the VRFA Honor Guard Commander and spends countless hours assisting with memorials and other events nationwide. “I couldn’t be more proud of Matt. This recognition is well-deserved for his time, commitment, and passion for constantly improving the Valley Regional Fire Authority and the entire fire service. Matt looks for ways to build relationships with everyone he makes contact with. He truly embodies our Mission, Vision, and Values. His leadership makes our department and community a spectacular place to live and work,” says Deputy Chief Rick Olson.

Selfless Service is a core value of the VRFA and is defined as giving without expectations of receiving. It requires putting aside one’s own self-interests to commit to what is needed for the team to achieve its mission. Systems Analyst Thomas Downs received the 2022 VRFA Selfless Service Award.

Thomas has been with the VRFA for five years and has proven to be essential to the VRFA’s success. He is described as professional, approachable, and reliable, with a way of making technical computer topics fun and accessible. He always seeks to help others with kindness and patience, even when pulled in multiple directions.” Asking for help with IT issues is always humbling. Thomas provides this help in a thoughtful, patient, and incredibly effective way. I always feel more informed and empowered after working with him. He is an invaluable team member, and I am grateful for his service,” says Chief Brad Thompson.