Holidays are a time for family. Most take advantage of such special occasions with gatherings around a dinner table, vacations with loved ones or even just alone time to rest and recharge. And while the majority of Americans can enjoy these special moments, there are those notable individuals who sacrifice their time and lives for the greater good. The city of Bellevue Fire Department is home to quite a few of them. With more than 200 firefighters and staff committed to its residents’ health and safety, the department serves from nine community fire stations and several support facilities. We salute these amazing professionals and got to know four members of the team a little better.

Daniel Robbs, firefighter

How long have you worked with the Bellevue fire department?

I have been with the Bellevue Fire Department for 8 years.

What was your experience like working throughout the holiday?

I am married to my best friend and the love of my life, Rachel, and I have to young boys, Jeremiah, 10, and Brennan, 6. I have worked many holidays in my 8 years of being with BFD. Some holidays are harder to miss than others. Fortunately for my immediate family, both sets of grandparents, siblings and cousins all live within one hour of each other. So there is never a shortage of houses or get-togethers that my wife and kids can attend. It allows me to know that they are taken care of and someone is making their day special. Personally, that’s what I care most about. That doesn’t, however, always make it easier for me to miss being with them and celebrating together. I am blessed, though, that there have been multiple Thanksgivings or Christmas days that the firehouse crew I am working with that day have invited all the families up to have a big meal together… that has been some of the most special holiday moments, getting to see my personal family interact with my firefighter family. It is an amazing career that comes with sacrifices, and it would be much more difficult if I didn’t have the support from my loving wife, parents and in-laws.

What is one thing people don’t know about you?

My middle name is Earl… named after my Grandpa who fought on a battleship in the South Pacific during World War II.

If there was a quote you could live your life by, what would it be?

“If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.” -David Swift, screenwriter for Disney (a quote from the 1960 film Pollyanna)

Jason Lewis, firefighter

How long have you worked with the Bellevue Fire Department?

I’ve been working with the department for about a year and a half.

What was your experience like working throughout the holiday?

For me, it’s a little complex. On one hand, it’s quite fun and exciting to attend Snowflake Lane, families out on Fourth of July celebrating or kids in their costumes for Halloween. However, I’ve got a little guy at home, and sometimes it can be tough to not always be there to share in the memories. I am, however, fortunate to have such an amazing support system of friends and family that make sure his holidays are a love and laughter overload. 

I do think the one gift in working holidays is the opportunity to be a calming and steady presence when someone is having an emergency. It’s the unique part of our job, the positions we find ourselves in when people are having a very difficult day in their life. For many, the holidays are profoundly important and loaded with tradition and rituals. Having an emergency during these seasons is often doubly difficult for people and families to cope with. I imagine it may sound odd, but I feel grateful for the opportunity to be present in those moments when life can be brutal. I think people who work in my field… it means something to us to bring a measure of comfort, humanity and compassion to the person or persons in those situations. If we’re lucky, hopefully in that process we enable the holiday to remain about family, connection and celebration.

What is one thing people don’t know about you?

I feel like you’re fishing for something juicy… so I’ll bite. I took… ballet for a bit when I was younger. I actually was a huge fan—highest I ever jumped! On a more serious note, I volunteer almost every week with a program for at-risk young men in Woodinville through the charitable organization Two Feet Project. We simply just connect and mentor these exceptional young men who maybe have had some tough roads they had to walk in the past. It’s easily one of the more meaningful things I take part in and hopefully, I’ll be able to do so for some time to come.

If there was a quote you could live your life by, what would it be?

“People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.” -Louise Hay

Chuck Heitz, battalion chief

How long have you worked with the Bellevue Fire Department?

I was hired Jan. 17, 1983. Next January will be 36 years with the COB.

What was your experience like working throughout a holiday? 

In all my years, I only had one or two bad holidays where I was on duty. I remember a Thanksgiving many years ago that had us respond to three suicides. Early in the evening, we responded to a cardiac arrest while a family was having their Thanksgiving meal. I was so relieved when we arrived and found the patient had only had a syncopal episode [fainted] and didn’t need CPR. It was not my favorite shift.

I also remember working a shift on Christmas Day where we didn’t have an organized meal and no family members came to visit. We sat in recliners and watched the Star Wars trilogy on the USA Network. It was terrible. I told my wife to not come to the station on Christmas Day because it wasn’t Christmas at the station.

Outside of those two holidays, I have enjoyed working holidays. Imagine a holiday family gathering where you don’t know everyone, the food is different and there aren’t any family issues to deal with. Working the holidays can be a blast.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I really enjoy fishing and talk about it all the time, but I am probably one of the worst fishermen on the planet. I have a dream where I walk into a grocery store and they refuse to sell me fresh fish…

If there was a quote you could live your life by, what would it be?

“Our paramedic instructor at Harborview Hospital, Dr. Michael Copass, had many sayings that I remember from training. One that he used to tell us regularly was, “Make a decision, I don’t care if it is the wrong one.” This quote is a direct reflection of living a life in the emergency services. It reminds us to not have “paralysis by analysis.” We can overthink/overanalyze problems and not come up with a solution because we invest too much thought into the problem. Trust your training, make your decisions based on good input and intel and go with it! I have used this in my professional life as well as in my personal life for almost the last 30 years with good results.

Laurie Lamp, captain, Fire Station No. 4

How long have you worked with the Bellevue Fire Department? 

I have been a Bellevue firefighter for 20 years.

What was your experience like working throughout a holiday? 

It is hard being away from my family during the holidays. We make the best of being at work by inviting immediate family for brunch or dinner if we can. My husband and kids will always try to at least stop in for a quick visit.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you? 

I sing at home and in the car when I am listening to music. I am a pretty horrible singer, but I don’t let that stop me, much to the dismay of my daughter.

If there was a quote you could live your life by, what would it be?

“Work hard, play hard.”