FORT BENNING, Ga. - Fort Benning's Directorate of Emergency Services fire department has won the Department of Defense Large Fire Department of the Year Award for 2011.

Chief Darryl Stewart said this was the first time in his 30 years of being in the fire department business that he has been part of a station that has won at the Department of Defense level.

"I'm ecstatic," he said. "I think the department is very happy. It's a great honor to have … I'm glad to be part of the team."

The DES fire department won two awards in Installation Management Command's annual Fire and Emergency Service Awards for 2011. It won in the large fire department category, and Raymond Harrington won in the civilian fire officer category.

The department submitted a one-page document listing its achievements over the past year, Stewart said.

Situated on the Department of Defense's sixth-largest installation, the department protects the Training and Doctrine Command and Medical Command's Ranger, Armor and Infantry missions, as well as more than 2,000 buildings and 4,000 housing units valued at $511 billion; 30 million square feet of real property; and 220,000 wild land acres from six fire districts, according to the department's submission.

Accomplishments in 2011 included saving lives -- included rescuing a hiker with head injuries during a severe snowstorm and being a first responder to a rolled-over 18-wheeler and entrapment, which saved a life.

The department has also managed an EF2 tornado incident, which damaged two three-story barracks, a warehouse and 22 cars at $3 million worth of damage; battled an out-of-control duplex fire that saved $175,000 worth of infrastructure; and reduced property damage by 63 percent through its housing residence fire prevention awareness campaign.