An emotional John Brazil recognized his volunteer crew of the Harbor Fire Department, citing their dedication, bravery and professionalism at the department's annual awards banquet Sunday.
"We're pretty proud of our organization," Chief Brazil said of the 24 volunteer members. "Each of them brings something to the table."
Last year, Harbor Fire responded to 283 calls, 144 of which were to assist Cal-Ore with medical emergencies andndash; and 52 of those that firefighters were asked to help in the ambulance en route to Crescent City.
Brazil said feedback from Cal-Ore officials indicated the firefighters were professional and patients felt they were being treated appropriately.
Eight of those medical calls were "first responder calls," where firefighters were summoned to provide medical help and no Cal-Ore paramedics were available.
And that doesn't include structure fires andndash; including the Elks Lodge arson fire in Crescent City andndash; motor vehicle accidents, boat fires, beach rescues and public assists. Nor the training and special events in which the volunteers take part.
The Harbor Fire District comprises the area from the Chetco Bridge to the California border and from the ocean to the ridge line above Harbor Hills. It contracts with others who live just outside the district east of there. And it responds to assist the Brookings Fire Department on big events or as backup while that fire force is at another call.
Kyle Coleman, with a year-and-a-half with the department, was awarded the Medical Assistant of the Year, having taken 20 trips with the ambulances; Steve Lewis was awarded Rookie of the year, having responded to 114 calls since joining the department last June; and Jesse Johnson was awarded the Most Improved Firefighter.
"You only need to show him once," Brazil said. "He's very calm, very responsive."
Firefighter of the Year was awarded to Kenny Davis, who Brazil said has a "lot of initiative and is supportive of the organization;" Officer of the Year was awarded to Capt. Bill Adams who is also the Chief of Cape Ferrelo Fire; and the Above and Beyond Award, created in memory of Chief Frank Kelley, went to Jake Campbell, who with 856 calls in his career at the department is the "flame of the Harbor Fire Department," Brazil said.
"Being a firefighter is one of those things; there's something in your heart," Brazil said. "It will be with you forever. Keep doing it, and keep having fun as we go forward."
Brazil also named three of those who joined last year and the number of calls they responded to in that short time: Spencer Davison with 56, Josh Frame with 72 and David Rice with 113.
Those who have reached career highs of 100 or more calls included Lewis, Johnson, Rice, Lt. Eric Jark and Kenneth Davis.
Dalena Bridford has responded to more than 200 calls in her career; Coleman to more than 230; Andrew Bailey to almost 240; Danny Contento to 280, J.T. Miller to 314; and Lt. Mike Kammeier to 460. Adams has responded to 577 calls and Assistant Chief Carl Guenther, to 1,200.
"Every call is a new experience to remember what we do and what we prepare for," Brazil said. "And the community doesn't really know the important things we do. It's kind of our passion. You are giving back to the community - beyond a doubt."
The volunteers surprised department administrator Patra Brazil with a bouquet of colorful flowers in appreciation for her work, as well.
Chief Brazil also took time to recognize the families, girlfriends and boyfriends, wives and husbands, significant others and friends who support the demands and stress that affects families, as well.
"If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be able to do what we do," Brazil said. "When we get toned out, we leave and they worry. They may say they don't worry, but they do. We're kind of like the kid at the front gate at the carnival. They open the front gate and we're off, and they're thinking about all the different things we're getting involved in. It works, and it works well."