Honored firefighter is first to retire from East Pierce Fire and Rescue

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Lieutenant Mike Roberts has become the first East Pierce Fire and Rescue firefighter to retire after 24 years protecting the Bonney Lake community he has called home since 1949.

More than 120 people attended a dinner in his honor Saturday at the Swiss Sportsman's Club. Speaker after speaker recalled Roberts' considerable work ethic and his unfailing cheerfulness. Firefighters from throughout the Plateau and Sumner gave tribute to the man they call "Uncle Mike."

The accolades included presentations from Roberts' boss Chief Dan Packer, the assistant chiefs and East Pierce professional firefighters Local 3520.

In a moving tribute, Packer inaugurated a new award in Roberts' name. The Mike Roberts Goodwill Award will be presented annually to the firefighter who has done the most to promote good will in the community.

Roberts began his career in the fire service as a volunteer for the Bonney Lake Fire Department in 1980.

"I wanted to help out the community, so I signed up to be a volunteer," Roberts said.

At the time, he operated the city's first insurance agency. In his spare time, he coached Little League, ran the city's first post office and served as a member of the city council.

After six years as a volunteer, Roberts was ready to change professions, becoming Bonney Lake's fifth career firefighter.

During his years with the department, Roberts drove an ambulance and pushed hard to add advance life support to the firefighters emergency medical care training.

"I like to fight fires," he said. "But I like patient care a lot."

To kick off his retirement, Roberts and his wife of 34 years are taking a two-month vacation, traveling the country, visiting friends and family.

"I want to thank everybody for all the great memories and the great things we accomplished," Roberts said. "I've had ups and downs, but it was a really, really nice trip."

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