FREDERICTON -- When a fire broke out here in the middle of the night one month ago today, 12-year-old Sam McKay was the first one up.

"I woke up to a smoke alarm, first I thought it was just doing a little test, does it like every six months or so and it hadn't done it for a while," said Sam McKay.

But he soon discovered it wasn't a test and sprang into action to help his mother and his seven-year-old sister Eden, who were both sleeping in the other room.

"I did have a pile of papers beside my bed at that point that had started to flame, and also my pillows, the pillowcases had started to char and cinder," said mom, Christa Flanagan.

Sam helped get his family safely out of the house and also called 911.

"We wanted to take an opportunity to recognize him for keeping that cool head, and knowing what to do when you hear the smoke alarm go off in the middle of the night," said David McKinley, Fredericton's assistant deputy fire chief.

On Wednesday, Sam got the VIP treatment at a Fredericton fire station. He was awarded a certificate of recognition for his courage and quick thinking and had a pizza lunch with the firefighters who responded to his house that night.

All of it was a surprise to Sam, but his mom thinks it's well deserved.

"I don't think anybody could be more proud of any child because in a really desperate situation like that, he just was calm, collected," he said.