NATICK, Mass. -- Col. Kevin Hillman visited the Natick Fire Department Dec. 12 to thank its chief and firefighters for their quick response to a small fire Nov. 27 at Natick Soldier Systems Center.

"By the time I got over there, it was completely under control," said Hillman, military deputy of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. "We certainly do appreciate it and also appreciate all your service over the years."

To express NSSC's gratitude, Hillman presented a box filled with stuffed animals and toys to Chief Jim Sheridan for distribution to children in the community. Hillman also read a letter from Dr. John P. Obusek, NSSC senior manager.

"I want to express my sincere gratitude to you and your firefighters for the swiftness of the response and their professionalism," Obusek wrote. "Their actions prevented injury to our people and minimized damage to the building. We are privileged, as part of the Natick community, to be protected by such a skilled and capable team of firefighters and emergency personnel."

Because of Natick Fire Department's swift response, NSSC employees didn't lose a single workday as a result of the fire.

Sheridan thanked Hillman and other military members for their service.

"We always consider ourselves brothers with you," Sheridan said. "We appreciate so much what you do for us each and every day and what you're prepared to do."