URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Firefighters put themselves on the frontline for our safety time and time again. Sometimes with little recognition.

This year, the Tolono Fire Protection District set a department record for calls for service, and their community selected one firefighter who stood out the most.

This isn’t the only job for these firefighters. They balance fire and rescue with family, community commitments, and full-time jobs.

“We ask a lot of them already with training and responding to calls,” said Chris Humer, Tolono fire chief.

Jason Brown, a 20-year firefighter, responded to 320 emergency calls last year, earning him the Member of the Year award. Brown said it’s equal parts fun and work for responders at the department. It wasn’t a question of if they will break the record, it was who.

“We kept a running total on the board,” said Brown. “That helped it be competitive to us.”

The fire chief is impressed by the numbers, but he says it speaks to the need the department is currently facing. There were over 500 calls that came in, but only 19 people answered them.

“We respond to the calls that we can from their home. They come here and respond within the community. We also support the other communities around us,” said Humer.

Humer added that right now they’re looking to fill as many positions as they can and he’s hoping this can motivate more people to apply.

“The old saying of more hands make light work. So, the more people that we can get that can show interest in volunteering, whether it’s in Tolono or another community they live in would be a great asset to our organization or theirs,” said Humer.