Reed's job - and the job of every other NHRFR member - is to save lives, first and foremost.
"That's it," Reed said. "It's part of the job. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Anyone else would have done the same thing. Saving someone is the most important thing. I was going in there. There were no second thoughts."
Reed and fellow firefighter Paul Lopez were successful in rescuing 67-year-old Maureen Mack from her burning residence last June in one of the most heroic rescues in recent memory in Weehawken. Reed went from his own bedroom, put on his boots that were at his front door and sprinted across the street to the six-family apartment building that was engulfed in fire and smoke - without the assistance of any protective gear.
Once Reed realized that Mack was still in the burning structure, he grabbed Lopez, and the two were able to pull the woman to safety.
The pair of NHRFR firefighters didn't do their heroic deed thinking they would receive any recognition for it.
"There's always a high risk involved, because you never know what's on the other side," Lopez said. "It was a case of being in the right place at the right time, having the proper training and knowing what to do. It was just my time. It's all part of what we do."
In recent weeks, Reed and Lopez had received awards of recognition from the state Firemen's Mutual Benevolent Association as well as the 200 Club of Hudson County for their acts of valor.
Two weeks ago, the pair was among 25 other members of the NHRFR to receive their valor awards at the third annual awards presentation at Schuetzen Park in North Bergen.
The NHRFR fights fires in Union City, West New York, North Bergen, Guttenberg and Weehawken.
"It's a good feeling to get recognized from your peers," said the 33-year-old Lopez. "I've been a firefighter for four years now and this is the first time I've been involved in a rescue of this kind. I was always interested in helping people and working in emergency services, so this was perfect for me. I was very honored to receive the award."
The 57-year-old Reed, who is a staff officer assigned to the NHRFR headquarters in North Bergen, said that he cannot compare the awards he has received in recent weeks.
"They're all special," Reed said. "I cannot say one means more than the other. You're being honored by your brother firefighters, so it really means a lot. They're all great accomplishments. I'm so honored that we're being recognized for something we do all the time."
The NHRFR also chose to honor long-time firefighter Capt. Bob D'Antonio as the Fire Officer of the Year and Al Salverson as the Firefighter of the Year.
D'Antonio, who is the captain at Ladder Company 4 in West New York, was also recognized with a valor award for saving a mother and her infant from a burning building on Bergenline Avenue in Guttenberg earlier this year.
"I appreciate that other people see that we're doing good things and we're getting recognized for it," D'Antonio said. "But it's not an individual thing. It's a team effort."
D'Antonio is also involved in many of the rescue training methods used by the NHRFR, including rope-guided searches. He is currently implementing a procedure that will enable rope-guided searches aid and assist firefighters in high-rise apartment fires.
"When I first came on the job, there were two men who showed me a lot, namely Capt. Joe Zarvardino and Capt. Frank Montagne (who has since been promoted to deputy chief)," D'Antonio said. "They really instilled in me what it takes to be a good leader, that you have to be able to come through for your fellow firefighters."
About 100 members of the NHRFR received awards, like service awards for longevity, as well as the valor awards for their heroic acts in the line of duty.
Reed, who has been a firefighter for 19 years, was especially proud to receive valor awards because two years ago, his son, William, received similar awards from the 200 Club and the NHRFR for saving the life of an infant.
"I can't tell you what it means to me to receive an award like this and having him there," Reed said. "It's very rare to get opportunities like this. I always followed in my father's footsteps and if my dad (Henry Reed) was still alive, he would be so proud. Just like I'm so proud of Willie. It's nice to see in the program that William Reed received one in 2002 and now Robert Reed. It's great."