RIVER FALLS -- The recently-chosen River Falls firefighter of the year said he isn’t much of a fan of his new award.

“I believe that I didn't do anything outstanding to deserve it,” said Evan Larsen, the recognized 20-year firefighter. “The way I look at that award, it’s something where somebody goes way above and beyond. I didn’t do anything different than anybody else would have done.”

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Peers who chose Larsen for the award to be given out Jan. 18 at the annual banquet said they disagree.

Though fire chief Scott Nelson doesn’t have a say in the choosing process, he said he believes Larsen is an excellent choice.

“Evan has set an example for others to follow, he respects the command structure during emergency and day-to day-activities and he truly exemplifies pride and ownership in the department. He has helped take our training to a higher level and he just makes sure that we are adequately trained,” Nelson said.

Larsen, a River Falls native who has served as the battalion chief of training since last April, said he would rather recognize the department as a whole than himself.

“It was more the department was deserving,” Larsen said. “I’m big into training and enjoy going to classes throughout the nation and wanted to bring it (training information) back to raise the collective bar rather than me having the info for my own use. If the department raises the bar then we’re better as a unit than as an individual.”

What Larsen said he loves most about being a firefighter is continuing to be part of a team and doing what’s needed as a servant to the community.

“The team aspect is the greatest thing about being in the fire department,” he said. “Ultimately, going to the fires is the best feeling, the most rewarding, helping a community member out in a time of need is the best.”

At the banquet, Gene McKahn and Gary “Stump” Eloranta were recognized for 45 years of service and each received a pin.