Public Safety

Volunteer Firefighters Honored for Their Dedication, Service

Susan Raimond, the assistant chief for the Mount Laguna Volunteer Fire Department, has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for 26 years of service to her community.  

Raimond, 58, was among 20 volunteer firefighters honored by the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation Thursday. Of those honored, a dozen firefighters, including Raimond, serve under the San Diego County Fire Authority.

The Fire Authority provides support to 15 rural fire agencies, including 12 volunteer stations, and extends round-the-clock protection to 1.5 million acres in the unincorporated county.  

In accepting her award, Raimond told the group that her concern for her own family, especially her daughter, is what led her toward firefighting in 1986. She wanted to know what to do in a medical emergency, especially since her family lives in a rural community.

Raimond also spoke highly of her chief and fellow firefighters and the important work they do.

“These guys and these gals I work with, they challenge you,” Raimond said. “What an honor, what a privilege to serve with them.”

Chris Zombro, 19, also accepted a Volunteer Firefighter of the Year award for his work with the Jamul fire station. He started out in the Firefighter Explorer program when he was only 15; this year, he graduated from the San Diego County Fire Authority academy and now works up to three shifts a month.

Under the Fire Authority, volunteers attend a CAL FIRE training academy and are paid a stipend in return for regular shifts at volunteer stations.

“For his age, he’s very mature and responsible,” said Zombro’s chief, John Kremensky “You give him something to do and you know it’s going to get done – and he gets it done 120 percent. Because of that, we assign him projects normally assigned to paid personnel.”   

Zombro, whose father is Kelly Zombro, a CAL FIRE San Diego deputy chief, said he has found his calling with the fire service.

“In my senior year in high school, I took an EMT course and worked one shift a week to meet the minimum (requirements),” Zombro said. “I worked at the station for three years. The crew I work with, we’ve seen a lot and we work really well together.”

At the ceremony, the foundation also awarded $278,000 in grants to volunteer fire departments – more than $212,000 was given to the San Diego County Fire Authority fire stations for equipment.  

Joan Jones, executive director of the San Diego County Regional Fire Foundation, said the non-profit has  awarded more than $4 million in grants to rural fire departments over the past 23 years. The grants pay for equipment and training.

“We’re thrilled to be able to provide that level of support to you,” Jones told the group. “We would like to be a financial lifeline for the firefighting community.”

Foundation grant awards paid for various equipment such as the airborne video camera for the San Diego County Fire Authority, thermal imaging cameras at various fire stations, brush personal protection equipment, hose and hand tools, a hydraulic hose expander, training and radios.

The grant money is raised by the foundation through corporate and individual donors.

The volunteer recognition and grants boost  morale and help  fund critical fire equipment or training, said Herman Reddick, with the San Diego County Fire Authority.

“We are extremely appreciative of the Fire Foundation for its dedication to helping improve the system of fire and emergency services in San Diego County,” said Reddick.

Other Volunteer Firefighters of the Year include:

  • Camron Beauchamps, Borrego Springs
  • Curtis Wilson, Campo
  • Paul Andrews, De Luz
  • Adam Pollock, Intermountain
  • Dave Southcott, Julian/Cuyamaca
  • Efrain Carrillo, Montezuma Valley
  • Jonathon Hailstone, Mount Laguna
  • Joey Huss, Palomar Mountain
  • Nick McNamer, Pine Valley
  • Cody Lingard, Rainbow
  • Joseph Potter, Deerhorn Valley
  • Michael Goldberg, Dehesa
  • Camille O’Briant, Harbison Canyon
  • Rodrigo Bermudez, San Pasqual
  • Colton Woolley, Shelter Valley
  • Matt Bolin, Sunshine Summit
  • Arthur Camarena, Warner Springs 

 

 

 

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact