MUDGEGONGA Fire Brigade captain Andrew Cross will wear his National Emergency Medal on behalf of the community he helped protect during the Black Saturday bushfires.
“The medal, for me, is some part of the recognition for that time,” he said.
“But although I’ve received the medal, to a certain degree I accept it on behalf of the community.
“Volunteers don’t always get a lot of recognition ... so that’s where I see this medal for me, as recognition for the whole group of brigades and volunteers that don’t always get a pat on the back but turn up.”
The Mudgegonga volunteer was one of three District 24 firefighters to be honoured and one of 27 firefighters statewide.
Wodonga operations manager Paul King and former Dederang captain and volunteer Doug Connor were also recognised at a ceremony in Whittlesea on Sunday.
Mr Cross said the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 had changed his life.
“The fire didn’t just come overnight and on Sunday,” Mr Cross said.
“It was on Monday and Tuesday, it was a campaign fire.
“Because it was such a big fire there was a hell of a lot of mopping up to do over the following week.
“Into the middle of the week after there was still stuff smouldering and the people who hadn’t been burnt out were still on edge that they could be burnt out.
“It was a pretty frightening experience for everyone and the scar of the black ... it reminds you just how bad the place looked.”
To be eligible for the medal firefighters had to have given between seven and 14 days of service in a three-week period.
Yesterday CFA deputy chief officer Alen Slijepcevic visited Mudgegonga to speak with firefighters about improving firefighting methods in the future.
“It is to see what works for them and what doesn’t.”