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Mr. March is top firefighter

Derek LaFontaine, recently named “member of the year” at Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, appeared in the department’s 2003 calendar. - Firefighters of Central Whidbey calendar
Derek LaFontaine, recently named “member of the year” at Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, appeared in the department’s 2003 calendar.
— image credit: Firefighters of Central Whidbey calendar

“Mr. March” was honored as “member of the year” at the Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue fourteenth annual banquet Monday, Feb. 24.

Derek LaFontaine was introduced, teasingly, as “Mr. March” because he appears bare-chested and provocative in the department’s 2003 calendar, which is sold as a fund raiser for a thermal imaging camera.

Chief Joe Biller said members of the department chose LaFontaine for the prestigious award through a survey. He added that LaFontaine was chosen for his skills and attitude, not because of his beef-cakeyness.

LaFontaine has earned international certification as a “Firefighter 1” and state certification as a emergency medical technician. He’s been a “career firefighter” for the last two years, Biller said, and was a volunteer the three years before that.

“He was elected hands down,” Biller said.

There was a tie for the “new member of the year” award, which is voted on by department officers, so two firefighters received the honor. The awards went to Firefighter Jeffrey Porter — “Mr. February” — and Firefighter and EMT Gordon Campbell.

Biller said three men were honored for responding to the most emergencies. They are Capt. Rob “Mr. July” Spinner, Firefighter / EMT Ron Yount and Firefighter Andy Griffin.

Two firefighters were also recognized for attending the most training last year. They are Firefighter Dave Grimm and Firefighter / EMT Jeffrey “Mr. January” Helm.

In addition, 11 firefighters received “service longevity awards” for being with the department at least five years. Nic Hallett received a 25-year award and Chris Chan got a 20-year accolade.

According to Biller, the department responded to 607 emergencies last year, including 25 fires, 373 calls for medical aid and 209 other calls for help. The department consists of between 40 to 45 folks, Biller said, which includes a handful of career firefighters and a whole lot of volunteers.

Biller, by the way, is Mr. December.

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