In 2011 the 34 members of the Brookings Fire Department responded to more than 350 calls.

Thirty-two of those members are unpaid volunteers whose efforts aren't always recognized, let alone rewarded.

Brookings Fire Department Chief Bill Sharp felt the need to recognize the time and effort put into keeping Brookings safe from fire and, with the assistance of the Brookings Fire Association, hosted the 2012 Brookings Fire Department Awards Banquet last Saturday at the Best Western Beachfront Inn, which was attended by more than 70 people.

The evening began with a slide show that displayed the various fires, activities and training exercises in which the members of the department participated during the 2011 fire season.

Following the slide show, firefighters and guests were treated to a prime rib dinner, complete with three different kinds of salad, potatoes, bread and spicy tilapia.

Following dinner, Sharp began his presentation.

According to Sharp, members of the department put in 4,508 hours worth of their lives in drill and incident response time.

Of the 355 calls that took up a major chunk of those hours, firefighter Derek Wood responded to 240 of them, earning him the Fireballer of the Year Award.

The only person in the department who responded to more calls was Capt. Jeff Lee who responded to 289 of the 355 total.

According to Sharp, Lee is ineligible to receive the award because he is an officer, but he was still impressed by how much time and effort both men put into the department.

Sharp recognized department members for their years of service, calling Jesse Badger, Jose Contreras and Megan Kohnert to the front of the room to be recognized for five years with the department.

"Jim started a couple days ago," Sharp joked as he called Assistant Chief Jim Watson to the front of the room to honor his 20 years of service.

"When he started he had the nickname 'Smokey Bear,' partially because he looked like Grizzley Adams," Sharp said.

Following the presentation of service awards, Sharp presented the department awards for 2011.

Junior Firefighter of the Year went to Chase Ferraccioli.

"At times I'm overwhelmed by his zeal," Sharp said, "and the effort that he makes as a junior firefighter."

The Most Improved Firefighter Award was presented to Jose Flores.

According to Sharp, the Rookie of the Year Award, presented to Jeff Welch, exemplifies the person who has shown himself to be one of the guys by making an effort to be there.

The Engineer of the Year Award was presented to Jan Miller for her knowledge and awareness in all things related to the engine.

"In some cases the engineer trumps what I do," Sharp said. "When it comes to knowing what's going on with the engine and situational awareness, she is all over it."

Officer of the Year was presented to Assistant Chief Tom Kerr, who was also presented with his own medical bag after he helped to deliver a baby on the ambulance, while en route to the hospital after a car crash.

Firefighter of the Year Award was presented to Jose Contreras for his dedication to the station.

The final award of the night was the 2011 Chief's Award, which was presented to both Watson and Kerr.

At the end of the awards ceremony, Sharp took time to thank the assembled firefighters and guests for the chance he has had to serve on the department for 31 years.

Miller, on behalf of the Brookings Fire Association, presented Sharp with a large print featuring Brookings' firefighters battling a house fire.

When the night was over, the department members headed home to wait for another opportunity to serve the public in 2012.