Robbie Bennett, an 8 1/2-year veteran of the Helena Fire Department, was named Firefighter of the Year Thursday.

Helena Exchange Club and the fire department hosted the ceremony at Helena Fire Station No. 1 to honor Bennett, who attended with his family and received accolades from club members and fellow firefighters.

“The recipient of this year’s award … is just a stellar individual,” said Fire Chief Mark Emert,"and I don’t think this award just recognizes what he’s done over the past year, I think this is a culmination of his career to this point.”

Bennett spends extra time on the fire investigation team which means time away from his family, Emert said, and he has become an informal leader in the department.

“I’m blessed to have a career like this and get to work with great guys every day, and thanks to my family for the support,” Bennett said.

As part of the award, the club donated $500 to the department and $500 to a charity of Bennett’s choice. He says he is still deciding where to send the donation.

Reporter Tom Kuglin can be reached at 447-4076 @IR_TomKuglin