HERO OF THE WEEK:  Sundae Garner
July 23, 2012
SFD’s Fire Equipment Tech, Sundae Garner, Photo Credit: Jeanne Johnston Jul 2012

Her Story

Sitting down for a face-to-face interview with Seattle Fire’s Fire Equipment Tech, Sundae Garner almost was a no-go until I convinced her that “everyone has a story”, no matter if it is a good one or not.  She definitely has an amazing great story to tell.  It’s an honor to being able to share with you all some of those triumphs and tribulations that makes who she is today.


You don’t really have to say her last name to know whom this person is and how she supports this Department in so many ways.  Who is this awesome person and what does she do for the Fire Department that seems to make her stand out from the rest? Good thing you asked!

Opportunity Knocks

Sundae Garner began her Professional Career with the Seattle Fire Department in April 2005, for approximately 18 months but then was laid off bringing her to Gonzaga University which she helped begin their Warehouse program and get them organized for the next seven (7) months.  

Then Seattle Fire called her back offering her a permanent position where she remains to this day.  She is a hard worker, loves to have someone bring her a problem so she can help them find a solution and  is very compassionate about her job in how she loves to work behind the scenes assisting Operations to do their jobs.  As a well-organized person, she has been tapped to build databases that are very complex in tracking equipment, services, personnel and grants that so many depend on and often.

A Complex Job

You ask, but what does she really do?  Let me tell you this – it’s a lot!

As a Fire Equipment Tech (or Warehouseperson (my name for it)) works in a Warehouse or at she calls it “Will Call for Operations”  for Support Services, is one of five other employees that is overseen by a Lt..  She explains her job description in a nutshell.  I had a hard time fathoming everything that she does and then some….

After reviewing the duties, you can get a pretty clear picture on what it entails and how a difficult job it would be for anyone, no matter male or female.

– Tracking equipment – bunking gear, air monitors, etc.

– Built a database and maintains it.

– Acquires certifications of SCBA, Maintenance and Repair of equipment

– Filling Air Bottles, Foam in SFD’s Fire Boats

– Schedules or is in Attendance with one other person during Hose Testing (it is outsourced).  Strips hoses (very heavy, I might add) off of a rig sometimes by herself to prep for Hose Testing.

– Maintains the MSDS – online.

– Schedules and handles color coding of SCBA and Oxygen Bottles.

– She handles Resource Integration Management (RIM) that is a database of City-wide Resources that can be accessed during large incidents.  It is a user-friendly database that combines all of the available resources such as equipment, services and personnel that the City can access.

– In addition, she managing all EOC and City grants in a database.

– Coordination of incoming equipment supplies to the Warehouse to outside Fire Departments such as Eastside Fire & Rescue, Bellevue, Tukwila are amongst the few she handles.

– When some fire crews are out on a long-term incident, she has been known to bring food or equipment out to companies that have been stuck at a call.

Accomplishments Inspire

Though there is a lot things that she does in her Professional career as a Fire Equipment Tech, this is not what makes Sundae Garner.  She is full of life, prides herself on many accomplishments and helping others, but it very humble about it.

Angels Amongst Us

As we go through the standard list of interview questions, I see in her eyes that she has been through a lot in her short life.  Emotions arise and we get down to the root of the situation.

One story is a constant reminder on really how short life is, but this is just a reminder of many we discuss.

She shares some very personal moments and has given me permission to share these with the rest of you all.

“On October 31, 2011, I was involved in a two-car accident on Halloween.  It was reported as a two-car MVA with a 39-year old male into a tree.  The accident was on Airport Way and S. Lander.  I was pushed under the dash and steering wheel.  I was literally trapped.  All the doors were jammed and the only thing I could move was my hand. The glass window had hit me and I was bleeding on my face.”

She remembers bits and pieces of the accident but some of the guys had to tell her the portion she has been unable to remember.

The rest of the story goes like this,

“Aid 14 first showed up with Dave Scott and Mike Mailer checking her vehicle and peering through the windows.  She lifted her head barely waving her hand saying, ‘Hi guys…’  They asked me if I am okay and I say my head hurts a little. They see I am bleeding on my head. They find that they can’t open the doors and are completely jammed. They say they are going to have to call the Ladder truck.  I beg them not to.  I  know that I am close to Station #14 and know that it will be Ladder 7 and the Rescue truck so that’s okay.  They tell me they have no choice, that the doors are jammed and they have to get me out.

Ladder 7 & Rescue 1’s crews Lt. Dave Powell, Tim Clark, Dan Gamboa and Dave Heiser show up.  Dave Scott says , ‘It’s Sundae! It’s Sundae!’ to one of the guys on the Ladder truck.  One person on the crew chimes back saying, ‘I don’t care what day it is or if it is Sunday, it is Monday.’  Then he said, ‘No, it’s Sundae.  One of our own!'”

They run over to the vehicle and the rest is history.  Well, sort of.

After she was transported to HMC, Dr. Compass, a well-known Doctor that has pioneered the Medic Training School amongst other great accomplishments in his career, had bad news for Sundae.  Because she had hit her head on the steering wheel thinking she had a concussion, they did a MRI and  found an “Arachnoid cyst”. 

As defined by Wikipedia, Arachnoid cysts are cerebrospinal fluid covered by arachnoid cells and collagen that may develop between the surface of the brain and the cranial base or on the arachnoid membrane, one of the three membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord. Arachnoid cysts are a congenital disorder, and most cases begin during infancy; however, onset may be delayed until adolescence.”  (Hers has been identified that it’s genetic)

Survival of the Fittest

What does this mean for Sundae’s road of life?  She has magnificently recovered nicely but “Archie” does give her fits occasionally which was found on her brain, causing her to have vision shifting from left to right and compensating that once in a while with neck pain.  She even had a little memory loss but she is quick to remember quite a bit when you ask questions about something that she is very compassionate about in life, like her job and community events she is heavily involved in.

Wearing Emotions on Her Sleeve

Someone had the means previously tell her that she wasn’t taking this accident too seriously when she spoke of it.  I have to tell you that she takes it very much to heart every time she tells the story.  You can see it in her eyes, her emotions expressed and they way she says it.   What she went through, she is very lucky and thankful to the guys who came and saved her on that day.  She realizes that she wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for a lot of things falling into place.

A Balancing Act

To know about “Archie” is a new challenge in her life, but she is thankful to have been treated by the best of the best on that day and realizing that things just happen.  She hopes that everyone will understand that when she may be a little frustrated with something or if it is in a time when a quick decision has to be made, to understand that it is “Archie” that is shining through her and it is not anything  personal.

Tragedy Strikes

Another turning point in her life with how a life can be cut so short – her niece’s good friend Nicole Westbrook and her boyfriend Bryant of three years.  They had moved to Seattle from New Mexico. Three weeks earlier, they were in Pioneer Square (Seattle) taking in some touristy sights in the early morning hours, when Nicole was gunned down by a drive-by shooter.  The tragedy struck on April 22, 2012.  The bullet struck her check and her spine causing her to stop breathing.  She was taken to HMC where she died from her fatal injuries.    

This is something that she is constantly reminded of and wears her emotions on her sleeves, which I find very refreshing knowing what she has been and lived through.

Life Too Short

Sundae realizes that life is “too precious” to let things just go by and now makes more of life’s moments.  There are so many things to live for.  She has definitely seen her share of things in life and this is why she is who she is and why she is so important to many of us, not only in the Fire Department but to many friends she has acquired over time.

Family Life

Originally, from Farmington, New Mexico, she has a twin and is the 6th of 7th siblings with four (4) older brothers and one (1) older sister.  She moved here in 1993, beginning her warehouse career with Tully’s  Coffee.

Huge Accomplishments

Not only has she been a huge team player in Seattle Fire’s Commissionary / Support Services, she also has received many recognitions and awards as well.

– She is the first female to be hired on to the Support Services Division and working in their Warehouse.

– Received a 2012 Nomination “Employee of the Year”.  They don’t just nominate anyone for this nomination.  You have to earn it.

– Has received the Fire Chief’s coin.

– Her Department received a “Unit Citation.” for spending so much time and tracking of firefighters’ new black bunking gear.

A Golden Heart

Sundae is also heavily involved in Community Events making a difference in people’s lives every day.

– A proud dog mom to Gus (a Rescue dog) and Bishop the Beagle  (her pride and joy and is a Rock Star of his own.)

Gus Gus (top) and Bishop (bottom) enjoy hanging out in their mom’s car either for a ride or waiting for her to return.  Aren’t they cute?  [Photo Credit: Sundae Garner]

– Camp Blaze – teaching young girls’ about firefighting.  She likes to behind the scenes.

– 9/11 Stairclimb Memorial – a Memorial that remembers the 383 firefighters that lost their lives; also remembers the police officers that have died as well.

– Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation (AARF) – She rescued Gus Gus, a one (1) year old dog from the Dominican Republic and is currently with Dr. Jim Ha, an Animal Behaviorialist.  She has literally saved this dog’s life and he saved hers.

– NW Harvest – a food bank.  She likes to help “where ever needed”.

Wow.  What  else can be said about this compassionate, straight-to-the-point, great friend, love for life, wear your emotions on your sleeve (definitely a plus) person?  I know, I probably only touched on just the tip of the iceberg on who she really is, but what we have seen so far – we are not only blessed by Sundae overall in what she does for the fire service, but in our lives as an honest, loyal and remarkable friend.  I can truly say, ‘I am proud and honored to know you.’

[Published originally July 2012]


Sundae has accomplished many things since our last interview and we can say we envy her amazing feats that should be highlighted.  Recently, she became a homeowner and her kids [Bishop and Gus Gus] couldn’t be happier and proud of their mom.  


Gus Gus [top] is a rescue from A.A.R.F. and his brother, Bishop [Sundae’s first pup – non A.A.R.F. dog]

One of Sundae’s many strengths is saving others [the four-legged kind] and she has been heavily invested in the animal rescue organization, Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation [A.A.R.F.].  She has given her undivided attention and timeless energy to helping  raise money through fundraisers and more recently, is ready to run a 26.2k marathon on December 1, 2013.

This year, The NW Fire Blog will be supporting Sundae and that’s where you all come in. We are asking our fans, followers and readers to partner with us to help Sundae with her mission in helping raise money which will save many lives and help pet owners all over Washington State.

Why are doing this, when there are many other causes?

Sundae who has worked for Seattle Fire has shown great compassion for firefighters, Medics and all of those who work in the fire service and on the fireground.  Her job can be very difficult at times, but she continues to find solutions for problems at hand.  She many great qualities and strengths that are noteworthy and through our partnership in the Fire Service – has become a great friend.  

Her job requires so much energy from her at times, I wonder where does it all come from?  We admire her for keeping things so well-organized with overwhelming [to us only] responsibilities she is in charge of, such as, managing equipment and paperwork of six to eight types of grants, encompassing three King County Zones, three other Washington State counties plus two large city fire departments, plus a National Laboratory.  

“Sometimes, it can be a daunting task.”  She says, but she does it with pride knowing she works for the best employer and has a dream job.

Now, you all know the why – here’s the how.

We are asking all of you to support Sundae during her on Saturday, December 1, 2013, on her long and adventurous journey as she runs in the Seattle Marathon.  We would like you all to visit Sundae’s fundraising page:  www.crowdrise.com/littlewonders 

The funds that Sundae will be raising will greatly benefit A.A.R.F.’s foster Moms and Dads with food and medical bills assistance; boarding fees for those furries not yet placed in a foster or forever home.  The AARF Angel Fund helps families with their own pets who are in need some financial help for vet bills, grooming, and/or food.

A.A.R.F., is a non-profit animal rescue organization headquartered in Seahurst, Washington [EIN #26-0332102].  All donations are tax deductible.

Their mission is simple:

 “Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation is dedicated to supporting and promoting the preservation and well-being of all animals; both domestic and wildlife.”

Their primary focus is to become a constant and powerful source of information for the public. They hope through their Foundation, individuals and rescue groups will find assistance in their efforts and support for their cause. They believe that in working with rescue animals, they will able to discover things about within themselves, others, and their existence, that will provide insight and direction in all of their own lives. The benefit is not only on the animal’s part. Once someone has experienced this, it is never forgotten.

A.A.R.F.’s link:  www.myaarf.org

You can help us help Sundae help save lives and the amazing work that A.A.R.F. continues to do that greatly impact others, including the people who adopt and foster our four-legged friends.

Sundae’s link:  www.crowdrise.com/littlewonders

Her goal is $2500 and she is currently at $1095.00.  Please..help her raise the bar in achieving her goal.

We will be sharing more of Sundae’s story as the Seattle marathon start date as it comes closer.  We will also be sharing Sundae’s progress.

Thanks everyone!

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