Saturday’s call was different. Harbor’s volunteer firefighters were called to Smith River for an awards banquet, to thank the members for their service.
“It’s a chance to get away, sit down and have a good connection,” Fire Chief John Brazil said.Volunteers, from teenage firefighters to a 95-year-old lifetime member, enjoyed a luncheon before the awards ceremony, catered by Fabulous Food by Julie.
The year 2010 was particularly busy, Brazil said, including a trailer park fire that killed a man and destroyed five trailer homes.
But the important point to remember is what they saved Brazil said.
“We lost a life and five trailers, but we saved two other trailers and no one else was hurt,” he said.
Often a disaster is counted by what is lost, not what is saved, and firefighters should get credit for what was saved, Brazil said.
A house fire may cause $30,000 in damage, but firefighters will save the other $230,000 value of the home.
The department responded to six fires in 2010 in which the firefighters responded quickly enough that the fires were put out before they did appreciable damage; a record to be proud of, he said.
“Our primary goal is to serve the community, to help save lives and property,” Brazil said.
In addition to fires, the volunteers also respond to medical assistance calls, acting as backup personnel for Cal-Ore ambulance services, and for traffic control at accident scenes.
Several firefighters were recognized for their dedication in responding to a large number of calls.
•Bob Larson – 174 calls
•Carl Guenther – 162 calls
•Raymond Branion – 174 calls
•Joe Miller - 72 calls
•Chad Speer – 68 calls
•Bill Adams – 67 calls
Some firefighters have full-time jobs, spend a significant part of their time out of the area, or have only been a volunteer firefighter for part of the year, but still responded to many calls, Brazil said.
The luncheon was peppered with laughter, and chatter between friends and families.
“We appreciate this opportunity to get together,” Brazil said.
The families of firefighters were recognized for their patience and support of their loved one’s many missed family events, dinners, and calls in the middle of the night.
Without their support, the volunteers could not do what they do, Brazil said.
“Everyone loves a man or woman in uniform,” Susan Larson, wife of Assistant Chief Larson, said.
Harbor’s area of coverage was protected by Brookings Volunteer Fire Department during the luncheon, he said. In turn, Harbor will protect Brookings during the BHVFD awards luncheon.