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Mercer Island’s newest firefighters
Three new firefighters recently joined the Mercer Island Fire Department. Retirements had left some vacancies to fill, according to interim chief Chris Tubbs. Two of the new firefighters live north of Seattle, and one is from the Eastside.
Mark Givens started his service on the Island in January, after teaching physical education in the Edmonds School District for eight years. He and his wife reside in Lynnwood with their two children. The Pacific Lutheran University graduate said he had wanted to be a firefighter since he was a young boy, and he trained to become one for the past two and a half years.
He wanted to be a firefighter because it involves both physically and mentally challenging work.
“That makes it fun,” he said, moments before leaving the station in the aid car for a call to Fortuna Drive. “You never know what is going to happen with each call.”
He also said that he was glad to be a part of the small department and the Island community.
“I wanted a department with a smaller staff so you’re not so much of a number,” he said.
Scott Logsdon went through the state firefighter academy with Givens and later joined the department at the same time. Logsdon lives in Kirkland with his wife and two young children. Prior to joining the fire department, the Washington State University graduate worked in real estate for eight years. He said he enjoys being a firefighter because it is satisfying and fun work.
“Going home at the end of the day, you know you were out there helping people,” Logsdon said. “And I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Both Logsdon and Givens said they felt lucky to have landed their jobs, given the competitiveness of the field. According to Jason Cook, another Island firefighter, joining the department is not easy. For every single spot that becomes available, there are about 1,500 eligible applicants.
“We may not have the number of denials of larger departments like Seattle, but as a smaller department, we don’t usually have as many openings. Having three new firefighters in such a short period of time is rare for us,” Cook said.
Tom Guttu is the latest addition to the department. The 22-year-old joined last month after working as a volunteer firefighter since he was 18 in the North Highline area of unincorporated King County, or White Center. The former football player and athlete attended Everett Community College for a fire science degree. He grew up in Shoreline, where he still resides.
“I’ve always been into sports, and this is a physical job with a lot of challenges that require you to be athletic,” said Guttu. “And you get to continuously learn throughout your career.”
The Island fire department has 28 full-time firefighters, split between the North and South end station. Firefighters rotate every four months between the two locations.