Ever since Dave Larberg’s ancestors arrived in Auburn in the early 1900s, his family has served the public.

For decades she owned and operated a grocery store at the current site of Olympic Sport and Spine on East Main Street. Her mother, grandmother and aunt were all Miss Auburn.

What could be more natural than this boy from Auburn “choosing a career that allows me to serve those in my home community”.

And that’s what he did, as a firefighter and chief officer for nearly 38 years – most of that time with the former Auburn Fire Department, now the Valley Regional Fire. Authority (VRFA).

On Thursday, April 28, Larberg called it a career.

“I enjoyed the work, the people and giving back to the community where I grew up. I’ve learned that prioritizing a good work-life balance is key to longevity in the fire service,” Larberg said.

Larberg attended North Auburn Elementary School (now Dick Scobee), Cascade Junior High (now Cascade Middle School), and graduated from Auburn High School in 1980. He graduated from Central Washington University in 1984.

Wanting to apply his community health degree as part of a sports team, Larberg found the fire department offered him two things: the physical challenge he was looking for and the rewards that come from helping others. .

He began volunteering for King County Fire District 44—now Mountain View Fire and Rescue—in 1984, and within two years the district hired him as a full-time firefighter. In 1989, he joined the Auburn Fire Department.

As he rose through the ranks, Larberg paved a path of achievement. He continued his education with an Associate of Arts degree in Fire Command and Administration, then completed Basic Law Enforcement Academy and became a fire investigator in 1995. He was promoted captain in 2001 and worked on a joint labor-management initiative to form the department’s first Wellness-Fitness program.

Larberg continued as Wellness and Fitness Coordinator for 11 years, helping the program evolve from a purely fitness focus to a more holistic view, which today includes emotional health components. and mental.

Larberg was a captain in the Training and Safety Division and as the employer representative of the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. He also assumed the role of head of pre-incident plans for the department. Larberg was promoted to suppression battalion chief from 2012 to 2014, then was appointed battalion chief in charge of planning and logistics, where he worked for four years.

In 2019, Larberg was promoted to deputy chief of technical services, overseeing the office of the fire marshal, support services, planning and logistics, public information and education, and emergency management.

In this role, he says he feels he has met one of the most rewarding challenges of his career: helping the VRFA achieve accredited emergency services agency status.

“It was an arduous process involving many of our staff and representatives from the International Accreditation Commission for Firefighters. It was total teamwork. I am very proud of our department for…this international achievement. C It’s a testament to the quality of our organization and the dedicated people who work here,” said Larberg.

In addition to his professional commitments, Dave has dedicated many hours to his community. He chaired the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life efforts for the department for 18 years, chaired the department’s Adopt-a-Highway team, helped with the Toys for Kids program, the Nick of Time Foundation and the Burn Foundation. He helped raise funds by riding the MS Ride and was a board member and vice-president of the White River Valley Museum for four years.

Considering all of this, it’s no surprise that Larberg has won numerous awards. He received the Firefighter of the Year award in 1995 and was twice named Firefighter of the Year (2007 and 2011). He received three Meritorious Unit Citations and was a three-time North West Police and Fire Games Medalist.

“Dave has continually set the bar high for the most impactful leadership trait: leading by example,” said Fire Chief Brad Thompson. “He would never ask anyone to do anything he doesn’t want to do himself. Generations of firefighters have benefited from Dave’s efforts to propel the VRFA forward. There is no way to adequately express how much he influenced the formation of the VRFA in the past, present and future. Dave will be truly missed, but his influence will remain. We wish him the best.

Larberg’s advice to those following in his footsteps: “Be kind, be humble, and strive for positive relationships.”