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Eric Unke named FD3 volunteer of the year

Eric Unke shows off his awards he received at the annual Island County Fire District 3 banquet at Useless Bay Country Club. - Photo courtesy of Sherrye Wyatt
Eric Unke shows off his awards he received at the annual Island County Fire District 3 banquet at Useless Bay Country Club.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Sherrye Wyatt

Eric Unke of Bayview has been named Volunteer Firefighter of the Year by Island County Fire District 3.

Unke, 22, who has been a volunteer for five years, was recognized at the district’s recent awards banquet at Useless Bay Country Club.

He started volunteering in 2004 at age 17, when he was still at South Whidbey High School, and at age 18 became a full-fledged volunteer.

Unke also was named Marine Responder of the Year and Outstanding Firefighter for Station 36, at Bayview.

“He’s a very active volunteer,” Chief Dan Stout said. “He’s part of the marine division, he pulls duty shifts — he loves the fire service.”

Also honored was Les Hagstrom, who recently retired after 39 years as a volunteer firefighter, one of the longest service records in district history, Stout said.

Hagstrom, 65, of Clinton, also retired last year after 40 years with Whidbey Telecom.

“He’s one of the most knowledgeable volunteer firefighters I’ve ever worked with,” Stout said. “He’s a true leader who really knows the fire service.”

Other award winners at the banquet were Melissa Simmons, emergency medical technician of the year; Kevin Graig, most inspirational; Irene Bullock, Star of Life; Leah Hughes, high school firefighter of the year and recruit of the year; Dylan Jefferies, fire-prevention and public education; Joe Freia, paramedic award; Joann Guernsey, support services; and Mari St. Amand, outstanding technical rescue team member of the year.

Other outstanding station volunteers were Dylan Jefferies and Robin Flem, Freeland; Kevin Simmons, Clinton; Dylan Scoles, Maxwelton; Wayne Russell, Langley; and Joe Freia, Saratoga.

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