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Kirkland News Room

Kirkland Fire Department Celebrates Awards and Promotions

Media Contact:
Kellie Stickney
Communications Program Manager
 (425) 979-6562     

KIRKLAND, Wash. – The Kirkland Fire Department celebrated promotions and awards on Thursday, June 27, honoring recent advancements to Battalion Chief, Lieutenant and Captain, while recognizing Firefighter of the Year, Officer of the Year, and two Medal of Valor award recipients. 

The Medals of Valor went to Firefighter Jesse Martindale and Lt. Tyrel Koistinen, who were singled out by their peers for their exceptional courage and perseverance while performing a perilous rescue during this year’s unusually heavy snowfall. On February 14, crews were dispatched to a garbage truck that had slid off a steep and icy roadway, trapping the driver underneath. Martindale and Koistinen worked tirelessly for nearly an hour in freezing temperatures, tunneling through snow, mud and slushy water to free the severely injured driver from beneath the truck.    

Firefighters and police officers regularly perform heroic acts, explained Fire Chief Joe Sanford, but the Medal of Valor isn’t awarded for the day-to-day rescues that come with being a first responder. The Medal of Valor is a rare honor, given only when a public safety officer has demonstrated unparalleled, relentless bravery, and selfless dedication to the preservation of human life.

“In my 38 years with Kirkland, it has only been awarded one other time,” Sanford said. “It's awarded when, despite the circumstances, despite the dangers involved, in full knowledge of the risks involved, firefighters set aside their fears for the possibility of saving a life.”

Firefighter of the Year and Officer of the Year went to Firefighter Jesse Disch and Lt. Justin Becker, respectively. Disch and Becker were nominated and selected by their peers for their recognition, each exemplifying the ideal fire service professional, reinforcing the core values of the department, consistently striving for personal development, and encouraging that development in others.

Disch is a certified technical rescue technician, and Lt. Becker is a water rescue instructor. Both serve on the department’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) team, where they work hard to ensure that the department’s protective gear is safe and in good condition. Becker, hired by the department in 2006, was promoted to Lieutenant in 2013. Disch has been with Kirkland since April of 2011.  

Advancements and promotions included: Jonathan Hernandez, Tyrel Koistinen, David Nelson and Ryan Riedl to Lieutenant; Kyle Higgins, Arthur Lim and Paul Smith to Captain; and Seth Buchanan, Margaret Freeman and Greg Picinich to Battalion Chief.