Eastside Fire & Rescue Chief Lee Soptich receives Fire Chief of the Year Award

June 7, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. June 7, 2012

Eastside Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Lee A. Soptich has received the prestigious Chief Dan Packer – Fire Chief of the Year Award.

Soptich, who was nominated by agency members and surrounding department fire chiefs, received the award at the annual Washington Fire Chiefs banquet May 24.

The award is presented each year to the leader who contributes to their respective department and community in an exemplary way.

Each nominee must: emulate Fire Chief Dan Packer’s strong leadership characteristics of loyalty, determination, strength in action and relationships; give professional performance consistent with the WFC Code of Ethics; extend courtesy and respect to community, fellow employees and members of the WFC; have exceptional performance and accomplishments; contribute significantly to the safe and effective operations of fire service as a member of the WFC; and contribute above and beyond the normal call of duty.

Soptich has dedicated his life to fire service with a background that spans 37 years beginning in 1975, when he was a volunteer firefighter for the Selah Fire Department. In 1979, he was hired as a firefighter with Yakima Fire, and through his career has held the positions of battalion chief, deputy chief, assistant chief and as fire chief, for King County Fire District 35 (Carnation), King County Fire District 10 and EFR.

Starting in 2010, Soptich served for two years as the president of the King County Fire Chiefs Association, renewing the interest and participation of many of the fire chiefs in King County.

“Chief Soptich’s sense of humor and self-deprecating manner is disarming, because he can laugh at himself and make you feel at ease while encouraging you to become involved,” said Deputy Chief Jeff Jensen, with the Tacoma Fire Department.

During his last year as president for the association, he developed a good working relationship with the King County executive and County Council to address issues concerning fire service. He also built better communication with counterparts in Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Over the years, Soptich has developed several partnerships with many organizations locally and throughout the state. He is a leader in setting ethical standards, setting a strong example to others. His vision and leadership has led and contributed to an increased level of public and firefighter safety in his own community and throughout the county and state.

The award is named after East Pierce Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Dan Packer, who died July 26, 2008, in a wildfire in northern California. He was recognized as a leader for the firefighter community on a local and state level.

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