South King Fire this week announced it has hired its first female Deputy Chief of EMS, Lisa Defenbaugh.

Chief Defenbaugh comes from Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue (SRFR) Local 2781, and brings a robust work ethic with over 17 years of Fire and EMS experience to the organization.

Inspired by her father and mother’s volunteering as firefighters or EMTs, Defenbaugh explored a career field in fire and EMS for Snohomish Regional Fire. She started as a part-time firefighter back in 2001, which is when she discovered her true calling for firefighting and emergency medical services. She was hired full-time in 2006, where she worked her way through the ranks. She spent many years as a firefighter and driver before answering the call to become a Paramedic attending Class 40 at Harborview Medical Center. Through hard work and dedication, Defenbaugh was promoted to Company Officer in 2018, then to Medical Services Officer, eventually becoming the Administrative Medical Services Officer of Snohomish Regional Fire.

During that time, Defenbaugh spent many years serving her Union, Local 2781, in many capacities. She began as the Union Treasurer, handling the financial records for her fellow brothers and sisters. Recognizing her leadership skills and desire to serve others, she was then elected to the position of Vice President, then President. She spent almost nine years of her career helping lead the way for Local 2781.

“Her experience and intimate knowledge of Labor relations will be an asset to South King Fire and Local 2024 as she forges a new path for our EMS programs,” officials said in a statement.

She enjoys spending time with her family in her spare time, especially outdoors. Staying active
has always been vital, as she has participated in multiple marathons, Iron Man competitions, and the LLS Stair Climb thirteen times. Using her medical background, she helps organize events such as the Annual Stump Jumpers Desert 100 as the Medical Director. One of her biggest joys is having the ability to give back to the community, and she continues to be a proud sponsor of the Special Olympics honoring her Granddaughter, who was born with Down syndrome.

Chief Defenbaugh brings a wide range of invaluable skill sets, passion, care, and leadership to
South King Fire. She will undoubtedly be a powerful force in helping lead our EMS division. She will lead the organization’s overall EMS Program and focus on safety as well as health and wellness, not just for our community but also for our firefighters.

Chief Defenbaugh also marks a historic period at South King Fire as their first female Chief Officer.

“South King Fire is charting a new course with EMS program development that meets the current needs of our community and plans for their future needs,” said Interim Fire Chief Dave Van Valkenburg. “Chief Defenbaugh’s character and reputation are first-class, and she has a proven history of being a change-maker. Her leadership will add tremendous value to our organization, and we are excited to have her join us.”

South King Fire & Rescue serves the cities of Des Moines and Federal Way with seven responding fire stations and one Training and Maintenance station. Fire Station 62 serves as their headquarters station. More info at