Brookings Volunteer Fire Department’s annual awards dinner featured applause and appreciation from firefighters who attended to recognize their brethren.
Brookings Fire Department awards were given to, standing from left, Jose Contreras, Neil Watson, Katie Brisbin, Jeff Lee, Jan Miller, Derek Wood and, kneeling, Meagan Kohnert. The Pilot/Arwyn Rice
The event, held at Brookings-Harbor High School on April 23, was attended by more than 40 firefighters and their loved ones. Dinner was catered by Fabulous Food By Julie.
The department had a busy year in 2010, responding to 366 emergency calls, about 80 calls more than usual, Fire Chief Bill Sharp said. Of those, 25 were fire calls. The combined damage caused by those fires caused only $15,000 in damage.Those numbers mean that the fire department is doing its job in preventing fires through code enforcement and fire safety education, and by fast, efficient response, Sharp said.
To meet the need for emergency protection in Brookings, the volunteers put in 8,420 hours of training and emergency response in 2010, he said.
“That’s good for a small community,” Sharp said.
The department began the year with 34 firefighters and ended with 28, he said. The loss is due in part to economic realities, as many would-be firefighters had to work extra hours, or move away for a job.
In 2011 the firefighter roster rebounded to 33, he said.
Department volunteers voted for outstanding individuals in eight categories.
The Fireballer Award is presented to the firefighter who responded to the most calls. Derek Wood received the honor, having responded to 214 calls, Sharp said.
Junior Firefighter of the Year
Chase Ferraccioli, 17, is a homeschool student and enthusiastic volunteer.
“He’s always there for drill, and for whatever he has to do,” Sharp said.
Meagan Kohnert was selected as the Emergency Medical Services Helper of the Year, for her response to medical calls.
“She’s very dedicated to what she does,” Sharp said.
Jose Contreras has been selected as the Most Improved Firefighter for a second time, demonstrating his continued effort to learn the job, Sharp said.
Jan Miller was selected Engineer of the Year.
Miller puts in a lot of time despite a job that makes it difficult to respond to a lot of calls, Sharp said.
Katie Brisbin began volunteering with the department as a junior firefighter, and has successfully moved into the role of firefighter, Sharp said.
Brisbin was also selected as vice-president of the Brookings Firefighters Association.
Fire Captain Jeff Lee has filled a huge role in training, Sharp said, and has stepped in where he is needed.
“I couldn’t do (my job) without the support of my officers,” Sharp said.
Lee, as an officer, was not eligible for the Fireballer Award. Instead he received an honorable mention, having responded to 305 calls in 2010.
Neil Watson has exemplified the best qualities of a firefighter, Sharp said.
“He is the person who we feel represents us and represents us well,” Sharp said.
Watson, son of Assistant Fire Chief Jim Watson, has been around the fire department since he was a child, Sharp said, as he displayed a photo of the younger Watson as a toddler, wearing a toy fire hat and clutching a toy fire truck at a Burn to Learn event.
The recipient of the Chief’s Award is selected by Sharp.
Captain Bill Atchley has taken on a considerable role in fire prevention and inspection, Sharp said.
“It’s a huge benefit to us,” he said.