"We had a great group of people riding the ambulance this year," Sturgill said.

Jackson added: "You're not in it for the awards; you're just in it for the community, but it's always nice when the company shows appreciation."

Historian recognized

Robert Janssen, the company's historian, was recognized Saturday, and he also spoke briefly about the company he has spent decades chronicling – he remarked he had collected every local newspaper clipping about the Level company during the past 60 years.

The longtime Baltimore County resident said after the awards ceremony he had always wanted to support a volunteer fire company, but was not able to where he lived, since there were only paid firefighters in his community.

The formation of the Level company, near his family's Harford County farmland, gave him the opportunity.

"I said, 'That's my chance to get in a fire department, I'll come up and help them,' " he recalled.

Janssen recorded the company's history and even ran calls as a firefighter.

Changing technology

Speakers during Saturday's ceremony reflected on how firefighting and rescue technology has changed over the years.

A recent event, when several Level firefighters and EMS workers used a makeshift oxygen mask fashioned from a plastic fast food cup to resuscitate a black Labrador rescued during a Feb. 11 house fire on Aldino Road, was touched on several times during the evening.

The Humane Society of Harford County has since donated pet oxygen masks, which come in several sizes to fit over a pet's nose and mouth, to the Level VFC.

"Who would have thought, 60 years ago, we would be carrying a pet oxygen mask on an ambulance?" Ambulance Capt. Sandra Gallion asked. "So things are progressing, things are changing."

Thanks from Boniface

Harford County Council President Billy Boniface, who was among the local elected officials presenting awards to members of the fire company, thanked the company for their love and support for his family in the wake of the passing of his 20-year-old son, Benjamin, who died last summer in a vehicle accident on the family's Darlington farm.

"You are the heart and soul of this community," an emotional Boniface said.

The top 10 fire responders for 2012 included Buddy Testerman with 257 calls, Shane Sawyer with 248, Larry Mabe with 243, Marvin Jackson III with 225, Russell Gallion Sr. with 193, Jimmie Hawkins with 190, Daniel Hawkins with 181, James Martin Sr. with 177, Morris Wagner with 170 and Clinton Polk with 160.

The top 10 EMS responders included Timothy Sturgill with 119 calls, Rebekah Jewett with 91, Michael Towles with 90, Clinton Polk with 76, Shane Sawyer with 72, Matthew Orf with 62, Sandra Gallion with 60, Susan Blake with 54, Rachel Itzoe with 52 and Tyler Leavens with 45.