Employee Spotlight: FF Ryan Olson 

Shift: Station 33 – A-Shift

Education: B.A Sociology -Pacific Lutheran University

Specialties:  Wildland Team, Hazmat Tech, Driver Operator


Why did you get into the fire service?

My wife and I had been living in Seattle before we moved to Oso. We were newer to the community and wanted to get to know the people around us. I started volunteering at the Oso Fire Department in 2009. Originally, volunteer firefighting was a fun activity my wife and I could do together in our small community.

Volunteering in Oso enabled me to practice exciting skills. Plus, there was this fantastic thing, you automatically had the trust of the public. The people who came before me in the fire service earned the public’s trust, and it has always been a point of mine to never take that for granted.

What would you want people to know about joining the fire service later in life than most?

I had come back from a deployment with the Coast Guard in Cuba. I had done some soul searching there about where I wanted to take my life next. I was 39 when I was volunteering at OSO. I decided to start working part-time at Arlington Rural Department 21. I worked part-time for 3-4 months to get exposure to the structure behind firefighting. After that, I knew fire service was the place for me.

I had jobs in banking, corporate management, construction, and in the military. Firefighting is being able to utilize past experiences to find the right solution to the current problem. Having more life experiences makes you a better employee, a better public servant, and an overall better person. A little age can help guide you in the decision-making process.

What is a challenge you face in the fire service?

I am a bit of a loner, so it can be challenging for me to come out of my shell. The family atmosphere at Woodinville Fire & Rescue (WFR) helped me overcome that. You consistently have residents in the community say thank you for what you do. That thankfulness makes it worth it to be outgoing. The fire service isn’t about pulling hose and being strong; it’s about getting along with people in every capacity.

How did you end up in Woodinville Fire & Rescue?

Woodinville is the only place I ever tested to join. In fact, it was the only place I even applied. WFR was recommended to me by a firefighter from another department. He told me it was a family-focused fire district, and that training was of paramount importance. I, fortunately, found all of that to be true, and I am thankful for that. In Woodinville, there is a significant focus on being accountable to the person next to you and their family, not just your own. This mentality is what makes Woodinville tick.

Do you have a memorable call that has stuck with you? 

My crew and I were dispatched to a non-emergency lift assist. This woman had tried to tell us where the hide-a-key was, but we could not find it. We ended up forcing her door open because we knew she was on the ground in need of help, but she could not hear us. We were able to get in and help her up. After, I felt so bad about having to force her door open.

I went back the next day, with some funding from our Benevolent Fund, to fix the door and make sure it was ok. She was so appreciative I went back to help her. Her son, a contractor, had already repaired the door by the time I got there. She was so thankful that we came back to help her and make sure her door was ok. Her reaction has always stuck with me. It emphasized the impact we have on people.

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

I think Woodinville reminds me of a military town. People go out of their way to thank you for helping them out. Many of our community members have had an experience with Woodinville Fire & Rescue. This fire district takes leaving a good impression very seriously. They have customer-centric values. They want us to do the right and the best thing we can every single time.