All 17 active members of the Hillsboro Fire Depart?ment gathered for their annual awards banquet Dec. 27 at La Cabana restaurant in Hillsboro.
Fire Chief Ben Steketee presented involvement awards to the top two volunteers in each of three categories: most sanctioned training drills; most fire runs; and the most combined drills and runs.
Rusty Moss won the top award for sanctioned drills by participating in 41 out of a possible 45; Lloyd Spencer was second with 36 drills.
Matt Hein received the award for most fire runs with 69 out of 104 for the year. Mason McCarty was the runner-up with 67 runs.
Hein also won the top award for combined activities with 104 while McCarty was right behind with 103.
The winners of each top award received $30 in Hills?boro Chamber Bucks while the runners-up received $15 in Chamber Bucks.
Steketee also awarded service pins, based on five-year increments: Joe Alva?rez 35 years, Todd Helmer 30, Murray Koop 20, Marty Rader 15, Ben Steke?tee 15 and Matt Hein five.
In addition to expressing appreciation for the commitment of his volunteers, Steketee said the families of the volunteers merit appreciation, too, for being willing to allow their spouse/father to be gone from home so frequently.
He also said employers of the volunteers deserve recognition as well.
?When we hire a firefighter, I go and talk to the employer and say, ?Are you willing to let your employee go???
He said in most cases, the employer gives a green light. Some employers ask that the volunteer who works for them not leave until Steketee sounds a second tone, indicating the need for additional help.
?We really are fortunate in Hillsboro,? he said. ?A lot of the guys work for the city, and the city allows them to respond. But still, they have different supervisors and sometimes it?s difficult to let them go.?
Steketee said the local department currently has three openings, though he expects two ?very good prospects? to be hired soon.
When people express interest in joining the department, Steketee first will ask them to attend each regular department meetings for the next six months.
?If they show up for every meeting for six months, then that kind of qualifies them,? Steketee said. ?I believe now that they are serious.?
Having cleared that hurdle, the veteran volunteers then vote whether to accept the applicant.
Steketee said it?s important that the veterans be in favor of the candidate.
?You have to really rely on each other in this work and trust in each other,? he said.
If a candidate receives a majority of the votes, he or she must then be formally approved by the city council.
Once that happens, the candidate fills out an employment application with the city. Even at that point, Steketee said he has the authority to veto the process, but that has never happened.
The new department volunteer will be assigned to ?shadow? one of the experienced firefighters for one year. Steketee said he also expects the new volunteer to take a Firefight 1 course, which to complete takes two evenings a week and a couple of Saturdays for six months.
Volunteer firefighters are paid $12.50 by the city for each drill they attend and each fire run to which they respond.
Steketee expressed appreciation to the city of Hills?boro for paying for the awards banquet.
?We just have a nice time of camaraderie,? he said.
This year, Steketee asked each volunteer to list the family members and their employer so the public knows each firefighter?s primary supporters.
The results follow.
Hillsboro Fire Department
As of Jan. 1
? Joe Alvarez. Spouse: Barb Alva?rez. Children: Laci Alvarez Adams. Grandchild?ren: Landri, Kai. Employed by: city of Hillsboro; Mike Duerksen, immediate supervisor.
? Roger Ashley. Spouse: Grace Ashley. Children: Leticia Solorio Cisneros, Ryan Novian, Cody Novian, Tila Ashley. Employed by: SSD Truck?ing; Sam Stevenson owner and immediate supervisor.
? Michael Duerksen. Spouse: Patti Duerksen. Children: Missi Duerksen, Mandi Duerksen, Maddi Duerksen. Grandchildren: Jaxton, Blaine, Scout, Sutton, Bradi. Employed by: city of Hillsboro; Larry Paine, immediate supervisor.
? Lowell Foth. Children: Brad Foth, Matt Foth, Courtney Foth. Employed by: Cooperative Grain & Supply; Lyman Adams, general manager; Chad Arnold, immediate supervisor.
? Johnny Gilkey. Spouse: Renee Gilkey. Children: Emily Gilkey, Hailey Gilkey, Chloe Gilkey. Employed by: city of Hillsboro; Dale Dalke, immediate supervisor.
? Matt Hein. Spouse: Erin Hein. Children: Rylie Hein. Employed by: Ag Power Inc./Carquest; Mike Kleiber, owner; Bob Williamson, immediate supervisor.
? Todd Helmer. Spouse: Dawn Helmer. Children: Taylor Helmer, Garrett Helmer. Employed by: city of Hillsboro; Mike Duerksen, immediate supervisor.
? Lyle Isaac. Spouse: Kathy Isaac. Children: Jacob Isaac, Kyla Isaac, Luke Isaac. Employed by: Barkman Honey Co.; Brent Barkman, owner; Kerry Hein, immediate supervisor.
? Murray Koop. Spouse: Coleen Koop. Children: Alexis Scott, Mitchell Koop. Employed by: Ag Service Inc.; Mike Kleiber, owner and immediate supervisor.
? David Lancaster. Spouse: Mary Lancaster. Children: Dirk Lancaster, Elizabeth Palmer. Employed by: Cooperative Grain & Supply; Lyman Adams, general manager; Chad Arnold, immediate supervisor.
? Mason McCarty. Em?ployed by: city of Hillsboro; Dale Dalke, immediate supervisor.
? Rusty Moss. Spouse: Stephanie Moss. Children: Kalen Moss, Samantha Moss, Tucker Moss. Employed by Cardi Oil Inc.; Craig Settle, owner and immediate supervisor.
? Kenneth D. Ollenburger. Spouse: Tammera J. Ollen?burger. Child?ren: Evan J. Ollenburger, Elliot L. Ollen?burger. Employed by: Ag Service Inc.; Mike Kleiber owner and immediate supervisor.
? Jason?Plett. Children: Taylor Plett, Tanner Plett. Employed by: city of Hillsboro; Mike Duerksen, immediate supervisor.
? Marty Rader. Spouse: Jennifer Rader. Children: Bryce Rader, Brody Rader. Employed by: Cooperative Grain & Supply; Lyman Adams, general manager; Terry Unruh, immediate supervisor.
? Lloyd Spencer. Children: Kim?ber?lea Spencer, Isaac Spencer, Kaleb Spen?cer. Employed by: Hillsboro Ford; Randy Hagen and Terry Hagen, owners; Randy Hagen, immediate supervisor.
? Ben Steketee. Spouse: Mary Steketee. Children: Renee Gilkey, Jamie Steketee, Becky Steketee, George Steketee. Employed by: city of Hillsboro; Larry Paine, immediate supervisor.