Local Forest Service Employees Win Regional Safety Awards

Release Date: Mar 7, 2018  

Wenatchee, WA — From the back of his pickup truck, District Fire Management Officer, Matt Ellis leads a hazard recognition discussion for a small group of fellow employees about safety improvements needed to the USFS fire engine building in Winthrop. As a part of the Methow Valley Ranger District Safety Committee, he will repeat this exercise for more than 20 other facilities across the area. In 2017, those efforts lead directly to the correction of 48 hazards and reduced exposure for dozens of employees. Last week, Ellis received the Regional Forester's Individual Award for Excellence in Safety and Health for his efforts in supporting a culture of workplace safety.

“Matt is an outstanding example of a commitment to safety that goes well beyond what is required for his fellow employees and the public alike,” said Mike Kelly, Safety and Health Manager for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. “This award is certainly well deserved.”

Additional regional awards include the Team Award for Excellence in Safety and Health for a backcountry rescue in the Methow Valley where local Forest employees worked with North Cascade National Park staff to provide medical treatment and the Wildland Firefighter Safety Award for Excellence to Cle Elum Ranger District Assistant Handcrew Supervisor, Ben Lippert for overcoming critical staffing shortages during a challenging 2017 season.

“Ben put safety first for his crews while the teamwork on the backcountry rescue changed the course of a life-threatening situation,” added Kelly. “All of these awards highlight our commitment to excelling as a high performing Forest in the area of safety.”

Matt Ellis safety award

Methow Valley Ranger District Fire Management Officer, Matt Ellis (right) accepts a regional safety award from Regional Forester, Jim Pena (left) on February 27, 2018. Credit: USFS

Ben Lippert safety award

Cle Elum Ranger District Assistant Handcrew Supervisor  Ben Lippert (right) accepts a regional safety award from Regional Forester, Jim Pena (left) on February 27, 2018. Credit: USFS


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The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.