THE selfless work of volunteer firefighters was celebrated and honoured when Kerang Fire Brigade held its biannual awards evening.
The evening recognises the work of firefighters and associated crew over the past two years, with emphasis on those who have consistently attended training, call outs, and given in other ways to the unit.
Captain Ramon Steel gave a summary of what the brigade had achieved in that time.
"Service delivery in District 20 is 90 per cent," he said.
"[We've attended] 19 structural fires, 13 car fires and accidents, 13 haystack fires ... and five fatal incidents," he said.
"A good save was the St Joseph's [Primary School] fire. That was a massive save - it was only a matter of minutes before the whole building was gone. It's a reminder we have to be prepared and well trained," he said.
The unit also acquired a new light tanker and a new support van, to which they contributed $50,000.
"Why do we do it? It's pretty simple - to protect our community," he said.
"Fire waits for no-one. We've got four minutes to... get dressed, and eight minutes to get there. It's why we're always in a hurry," he said.
Awards were distributed to several members throughout the evening.
Lieutenant Lee Guest was named Champion Firefighter for 2016, and delivered a brief acceptance speech.
"I wasn't expecting this. It's good to be a part of the brigade and turn out with you guys, doing what we do," he said.
The 2017 Champion Firefighter was Captain Ramon Steel.
"I didn't join the brigade for things like this, but if they happen, that's good," he said.
"You're a great team to lead."
Two brigade lifetime memberships were also awarded to Charles Kenyon and John Rumbold.
Long-service awards for 15 years went to Andre Brown, Lee Guest, Mark Henderson, John Murphy and First Lieutenant Brian Murphy.
Charles Kenyon was awarded his 30-year service medal and secretary Rob Walsh was acknowledged for serving for 50 years.
The Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria Gold Star Award also awarded to Charles Kenyon.
The Gold Star Award is available to brigade members with 30 years or more of service, and encompasses in its design the eight-pointed star.
Country Fire Authority District 20 operations manager, Peter Taylor explained the significance of the design.
"Each point of the star on the award represents a virtue we want to have in our firefighters: Loyalty. We hold tough when things aren't going well. Dexterity is being flexible and able to adapt to the circumstances. Explicitness [is] to be succinct and plain speaking. Gallantry [is] being on time, displaying considered bravery - not sacrificing yourself for nothing but being brave while looking out for yourself," he said.
The remaining points represent observation, perseverance, sympathy and tact.
Life membership of the Ladies Auxiliary was awarded to Judy Wilkinson in addition to recognition for her 30 years of service.
The night also took time to recognise those newer volunteers, with two awards given to best first-year firefighters.
Those awards went to Amy Steel and Tim Jordan.
"To be honest it's exciting to be part of a group of guys and girls like you - this is just the icing on the cake," Mr Jordan said.
The evening finished with Mr Taylor delivering his own praise.
"Congratulations on acquiring new gear in the station. Additions in the fleet are really hard to do in a brigade; we've got to advocate pretty hard," he said.
"But it's pretty easy to advocate for this brigade because they work so hard."