As nearly all members of the Sun Valley Fire Department looked on, Gina Storey affixed a bugle pin to her husband’s lapel.
Two firefighters had to depart the ceremony due to a paged fire alarm. But those who remained in City Hall cheered on Slater Storey, recently named “Firefighter of the Year” by his peers and promoted to Fire Lieutenant by Sun Valley Fire Chief Taan Robrahn.
“Since becoming a full-time member of the Sun Valley Fire Department, Slater has excelled and become a valued member of the team,” Robrahn said at the ceremony, held during the Feb. 6 council meeting.
Born and raised in the Wood River Valley, Storey joined the Sun Valley Fire Department in 2007 after attending the Structural Fire Science Program in Bend, Ore., and served as a volunteer firefighter until 2018. Last year, he transitioned from a job with the city’s street department to a full-time firefighter and EMT.
“He was really our most valuable volunteer firefighter before the [full-time] position opened up,” said colleague Matt Hansen. “Slater’s knowledge of engines, of the station, of firefighting tactics and command, is far above most of us in the department.”
Storey said in a Saturday interview that he’s welcomed the additional duties that come with a lieutenant rank—higher-stakes decision making, for example, and the ability to revise the department’s “SOG’s,” or standard operational guidelines.
Thinking on one’s feet is another core job requirement.
“A 48-hour shift could really look like anything, from doing rig checks on the engines to making a game plan en route [to a fire],” he said.
To become a lieutenant, Storey had to excel in a battery of both written and field exams designed to test his knowledge on everything from hydraulic ventilation to vehicular extrication.
“The idea was to evaluate how we’d respond to different scenarios, from wildland and structural fires to medical calls,” he said.
Wildland fires are a familiar subject for Storey—in 2008 and 2013, he ventured to southern California to help control large wildfires.
The lieutenant’s lifelong alpine skiing endeavors have also taken him to Vancouver and Sochi, Russia.
In 2009, Storey was asked to join the U.S. Paralympic team as a ski guide for three-time medal-winning alpine skier Mark Bathum.
A year later, the duo qualified to compete in the Vancouver Winter Paralympics and brought home the silver medal.
“We communicated through a headset—I’d be in front to tell [Bathum] what was coming up terrain-wise, and he’d tell me if I was going too fast,” Storey said. “It was a lot of teamwork for a sport that doesn’t usually require it.”
It’s evident that Storey has applied that same principle to firefighting. The same goes for Sun Valley Fire Department engineer David Lister, who was honored alongside Storey on Thursday for his recent promotion to squad leader.
“It’s no small responsibility to be put in charge of personnel and equipment in extremely trying circumstances,” Mayor Peter Hendricks told Storey and Lister. “I’m impressed, but not surprised, by how hard each of you must have worked.”
In 1975, Lister became one of Ketchum’s first full-time firefighters and, two years later, joined the Sun Valley Fire Department as a volunteer. After 17 years of work with Sun Valley Ski Patrol and over 30 years with Blaine County Search and Rescue, Lister re-joined the department in 2014 as a full-time, paid-on-call firefighter engineer.
“Since that time, David has always been there in the middle of the night, whenever we need him,” Robrahn said.