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Honoring firefighters

Receiving awards at Brookings firefighter banquet are Derek Wood, left, Katie Brisbin, Justin Burkhalter, Jan Miller, Billy Casteel and Tom Kerr. The Pilot/Arwyn Rice
In 2009 the Brookings Volunteer Fire Department responded to 283 calls.

Durning those calls, several firefighters distinguished themselves, Fire Chief Bill Sharp said at the annual awards dinner.

First among those was firefighter Derek Wood, who responded to 187 of those calls, averaging a call every other day.

Wood was named Firefighter of the Year for his dedication to the department.

Justin Burkhalter was named Rookie Firefighter of the Year. In his first year Burkhalter responded to 29 calls and continues to learn and improve, Sharp said.

Tom Kerr was named the 2009 Officer of the Year. 

Kerr, a Brookings assistant chief, has been a firefighter for Brookings for 41 years.

Katie Brisbin was named 2009 Junior Firefighter of the Year. Brisbin has since joined the department as an adult member.

Brisbin responded to 132 calls in 2009, as both a junior firefighter and as a fully qualified firefighter.

A new honor, the Fire Chief’s Award, was presented to Captain Jeff Lee, acknowledging the firefighter who best exemplifies exceptional service to the community. 

“”As your fire chief I am honored to recognize your efforts and heart for this community and department,” Sharp said.

Lee responded to 243 calls in 2009.

Engineer Jan Miller received the Emergency Medical Services Helper Award for her assistance during medical calls.

Miller also received a five-year pin to recognize her years of service to the department.

Billy Casteel was awarded Engineer of the Year. Casteel responded to 185 calls, operating the department’s engines.

Jose Contreras was named Most Improved Firefighter.

Volunteer firefighters also have jobs, attend school and other responsibilities that often prevent them from responding to calls, Sharp said.

Those firefighters who are able to find a way to show up for calls despite other responsibilities were recognized.

Firefighters noted for their response to calls were Kyle Coleman, 140, Mike Henry, 140, and Jan Miller, 122 responses.

Sharp also thanked the spouses and families of firefighters, noting that many family meals and events are interrupted by emergency calls.

The event was catered by Julie’s Catering Service.

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