Employee Spotlight: Battalion Chief Seth Merritt

Employee Spotlight: Battalion Chief Seth Merritt 


Shift: A-Shift

Education:  Everett Community College – Fire Science 

Specialties:  Wildland Team Lead for Woodinville – Division Supervisor – Type One Incident Management Team 


Why did you get into the fire service?

I got into the fire service at age 16 by volunteering with Yakama District 14. My grandfathers and four of my uncles were firefighters. It’s a bit of a family tradition. My uncle, who was the Fire Chief of Snohomish Fire District 4, let me do ride alongs from a young age. My other uncle was the Fire Chief of Prosser. I was able to witness the excitement and adventure of a fire service career. I was already an adrenaline junkie, so it was a perfect fit.  At 18, the department I was with volunteered to send me to the State Fire Academy. At that time, I was the youngest person to go through the state academy.


How did you end up in Woodinville Fire & Rescue?

I started my career as a 911 dispatcher in Yakima. I had tested five times for a fire service career and had not been hired. In May of 2002, a previous test I had taken for Public Safety Testing got me into six oral boards, all around the former consortium of Zone One. Woodinville was the second fire district to interview me. Once Woodinville’s Deputy Chief called and offered me a job, I was done searching for a home. 


What is a challenge you face in the fire service?

It is easy to become married to the job. Because of the nature of 24-hour shift-work, it is easy to immerse yourself in the career and lose sight of other aspects of your life, like family and friends outside of work.


What would you want people to know about firefighting or a career in the fire service? 

I have not worked a ton of other jobs besides construction, but in my opinion, there is nothing more rewarding than this career. You get to help people every day.

 In the fire service, everything we deal with is in a short duration and emergent. The quick decisions you make in an emergency can make a big difference in someone’s life; that alone is rewarding.  


What is something you value about the fire service? 

The camaraderie. As a team or crew, we experience tough calls together. Sometimes it seems like we are the only people who can communicate about it. These experiences build a strong bond between co-workers that may have ordinarily not been friends. Both on and off duty, people in the fire service share the same passions in life. 


What would be a memorable call? 

I remember it clearly; it was a wildfire. The Taylor Bridge Fire, we were pulling into the Hidden Valley Community. There were multiple houses on fire. We spent 24 hours going house to house, saving everything we could. After those 24 hours, you could see the amount of impact our crew had. The amount of personal property saved just by being at the right place at the right time was amazing. It felt so good knowing people who had evacuated would have something left when they returned home. 


What do you enjoy about being a part of the Woodinville Community?

I love it because it’s charming. This community embraces its Fire District and public safety. It is wonderful to be a part of it. In 18 years, I have never received negative feedback on the work we do or the services we provide. I think that is a very high compliment.