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Types of Firefighter Awards

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Firefighters deal with life-threatening situations on a regular basis, but there are some who go above and beyond the call of duty. Many fire departments recognize these firefighters for performing in an outstanding manner. Usually nominated by co-workers, these overachievers are given awards for acts performed that involve extreme bravery, special merit or honor. Specific award titles can vary, determined by each particular fire department, but the characteristics or acts the honors reflect are universal.

Merit Award

operations, when there's no risk to the firefighter’s life. This award recognizes firefighters who have performed great acts of service in an outstanding manner, including saving lives or preventing major property damage.

The award of merit is given to firefighters for meritorious action taken during routine emergency operations, when there's no risk to the firefighter’s life. This award recognizes firefighters who have performed great acts of service in an outstanding manner, including saving lives or preventing major property damage.

Valor Award

This award is given to firefighters who clearly distinguish themselves by displaying great courage while under minimal risk of personal injury. This includes attempting to save or saving a life or preventing the substantial loss of property. Firefighters who receive this honor have usually performed acts that clearly show courage or bravery.

Honor Award

Unlike the Merit or Valor awards, which are given when there’s little or no threat to the firefighter’s life, the Award of Honor is given for an act of bravery performed under life-threatening conditions. This award is usually one of the most prestigious awards a fire department bestows, given when firefighters have knowingly risked their own lives to perform outstanding acts.

Lifesaving Award

This award is presented to firefighters for performing acts in the line of duty, through prompt and alert action and at great personal risk, which specifically result in saving a human life.

Firefighter of the Year Award

Firefighter of the Year awards are annually presented by most fire departments to firefighters with accomplishments such as devotion to duty, service to the public and bringing positive commendation to the department.

Unit Award

Unit Awards are presented to members of a unit made up of two or more firefighters who form a company, sector, team or employee work group. These firefighters, as a group, have overcome difficulties or obstacles under unusual or adverse conditions while completing a task or duty.

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About the Author

Based in Royal Oak, Mich., Christine Wheatley has been writing professionally since 2009. She contributes to several websites, specializing in articles about fitness, diet and parenting. Wheatley has a Bachelor of Arts in art from Calvin College.