Ed Nunemacher, an 11-year member of the Diligence Fire Co. No. 1, Summit Hill, was named "Firefighter of the Year" by the fire company Saturday night.

The fire department staged its annual Christmas party at the Summit Hill American Legion Post and honored several of its most dedicated volunteers.

The highlight was the presentation of the Firefighter of the Year award, also called the Paul "Pauky" Yuricheck Award, which honors a selected firefighter for his "dedication, commitment, and honor."

The award was presented by Fire Chief Shawn Hoben, who said of Nunemacher, "If you go to a fundraiser, you see this person; go to a fire at 3 in the morning, you see this person; go to drill night, you see this person."

Nunemacher, when he accepted the award, remarked, "To you young guys, the juniors in particular, I started in the fire police. My dream since I was 5 years old was to be a fireman. I made it there."

Also saluted were five members who were named to the "300 Club," who have given more than 300 hours of volunteer time during the year. Hoben said there were numerous volunteers who fit the category, but five were selected all who have contributed more than 400 hours each of volunteer service.

Recipients of jackets were Nunemacher, Leonard R. Ogazalek, John C. Poko, Brandon Miller, and fire company president Larry Black.

Black said a new award presented this year was one to the fire department's fundraising committee.

"Over the past year, there's been a lot of help, a lot of assistance," he said, noting the fundraising committee has put in a lot of hours. Members of the committee who were present and accepted the award were Judy Hoben, Angela Giglotti, Jade Washowsky, Jessica Matzen, Nancy Henninger, Leigh Ann Kruslicky, Kathy Yuricheck, and Carol Ockenhouse.

Each firefighter received a "years of service" pin. Those with the most consecutive years in the fire department are Paul Yuricheck, 43; Willie Walker, 38; John R. Poko, 36; John Allesch (fire police), 32; Leonard R. Ogazalek, 22; Rich Gould, 21, and Allen Kruslicky, 20.

Hoben praised all the volunteers, noting that last week was especially time consuming.

Besides the regular drill nights, there were numerous fire calls, including two major structure fires in Jim Thorpe one which resulted in two deaths both in the early morning hours.

"Some of our guys went two days without sleep," he said.

He said the fire company is utilizing the borough garage until its new firehouse is completed.

"You can operate out of a Taj Mahal," he said, "but it's nothing without the people."

A moment of humor came when he said the firefighters will soon be going into their new building, when someone yelled out, "You said that last year."

The new fire company was scheduled to be completed in December 2008 but various setbacks occurred and the firehouse still sits vacant.

Last week Summit Hill Borough Council said it anticipates occupancy might occur in about a month.