COOS BAY, OR – Michael “Mick” Sneddon has been chosen as the recipient of the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award is an honor to recognize a Southwestern Oregon Community College alumnus who has achieved excellence in their professional and personal lives and for touching the lives of others with their contributions.
Sneddon attended Southwestern in 1982, earning an Associates of Science in Fire Science Technology in 1984. He also holds a Bachelors of Science in Fire Service Administration from Eastern Oregon University.
“A South Coast native, Mick is a shining example of an individual who has chosen to improve his community,” said Paul Reynolds, Director of Fire Science Programs, the person who nominated Sneddon.
From this experience, I decided that I enjoyed serving my community in this direction and since then have dedicated my adult life to the fire service,” said Sneddon.
Born and raised in the Florence area, Sneddon spent time as a youth around the Florence Fire Department where his father and two of his brothers were volunteer firefighters.
“From this experience, I decided that I enjoyed serving my community in this direction and since then have dedicated my adult life to the fire service,” said Sneddon.
Of his 27 years, all but 2 were in Coos County. Sneddon was hired in 1986 by the North Bend Fire Department as a Firefighter / Engineer, working his way up the ranks to Firefighter / Engineer II Training Coordinator. He was selected as the Fire Chief of the Charleston Rural Fire Protection District in 1996, the position he still holds today.
Sneddon arrived to the District at a time of public discord and transition among the District and the Board of Directors. In his time there, he has significantly lowered the tax rate, built great community support, replaced/rebuilt stations, and upgraded its response fleet with newer and safer equipment. He secured grants to purchase breathing apparatus, rope rescue equipment, training aids, and exhaust filtration systems. Sneddon also successfully obtained a grant to provide all Charleston firefighters with a baseline health screening. The District and his work are highly regarded by the local Fire Service community.
In his spare time, Sneddon serves as a part-time instructor in both the Fire and EMS fields. He also maintains his pursuit for continuing education. Sneddon has been president of the Southwestern Oregon Fire Instructor’s Association and vice president of the Southwestern Oregon Firefighter’s Association. He developed an internship program with the college’s Fire Science program, providing the volunteers living quarters and a small stipend. His most memorable experience at Southwestern is “recently dedicating the new fire truck to the college, improving firefighter safety and enhanced training for the regions firefighters,” a fire engine he coordinated the funding for.
Sneddon has been married for 22 years and suggests that his 18 year-old daughter is planning to attend Southwestern in the Fall. He and his wife have one other daughter just beginning high school. Sneddon enjoys spending time with his family, riding on his cousin’s ranch with father, working with wood/metals and studying local and Oregon history, especially railroading.
“My education from Southwestern has meant a world of knowledge and has opened doors, giving me the skills to seek what I need to excel,” said Sneddon. “Through my degrees from Southwestern and Eastern Oregon University, I have been able to manage the challenges that have arisen throughout my career including the trials and tribulations of managing a small Fire District during turbulent times and now through tough fiscal times.”
For over a decade, Southwestern has honored individuals who made use of their educational experience at Southwestern in a variety of meaningful ways. Its exemplary group represents leaders whose time, talents and skills make a difference in the lives of others. Some are living and working on the South Coast and others have pursued endeavors and other communities across the country. For more information on the award or the Southwestern Foundation in general, please contact the Foundation at 541-888-7211.