As of Wednesday, January 24, 2018
SUNNYSIDE With more than 40 years as a volunteer fireman, Alan Van Beek richly deserves a lot of accolades.
Saturday night, the longtime Sunnysider was named Sunnyside Fire Department Volunteer Firefighter of the Year at the department’s annual awards banquet held at El Valle Restaurant.
Van Beek and his fellow firefighters and department EMTs had a very busy year, Fire Chief Aaron Markham said.
“We responded to a total of 2,292 calls in 2017,” he said. “Of that, 1,813 calls were emergency medical service-related and fire and service calls.”
In addition to his volunteer honor, Van Beek received a 15-year service award, plus a pin and mantle clock for his volunteer efforts with the department.
Markham said Van Beek began his career as a firefighter with the Yakima County Fire District No. 5 in 1978.
Alejandro (A.J.) Barrera was named “Career Firefighter of the Year,” Markham said.
Barrera joined the Sunnyside department in 2013. He previously volunteered with the Mabton and Prosser fire departments before joining Sunnyside.
In other honors given, Ed Laverman, was honored for 50 years of volunteer services to the department.
Career fireman Paul Filicetti was presented his 25-year service pin and Micky Gillie was given his 10-year service pin.
Chief Markham also presented the department’s newest paid members Zach Heeren, who has been hired full-time, and new hire Lucas Flodin.
Flodin will be sworn in as the department’s newest member during ceremonies to be held before city council at its Jan. 22 meeting at the Law and Justice Center.
New volunteer firefighters introduced were Nelson Talamantes, Maria Olivera and Armando Zesate.
Serving as 2018 volunteer firefighters’ association officers are Aron Hunsaker, president, James Woodworth, vice president, Stephanie Honey-Morrow, secretary, and Jose Visser, treasurer.