ABOUT 150 Bendigo district Country Fire Authority volunteers and employees have received a National Emergency Medal during a special presentation.
CFA Loddon-Mallee regional director Mike Wassing said the National Emergency Medal had been introduced to recognise emergency services workers who assisted the community during the Black Saturday fires in 2009 and during 2011's Cyclone Yasi and Queensland floods.
Mr Wassing said the presentation on Sunday at Bendigo's Capital theatre was one of eight presentations in the Loddon Mallee region to recognise 575 people for their work on Black Saturday.
“The real importance for us is to recognise and say thank you to those who have sacrificed for the community," Mr Wassing said.
"Often their own houses were burning while they were out fighting other fires."
CFA deputy chief officer for Victoria Alan Ellis presented the Bendigo awards on Sunday.
"It was a very special day for me because I started volunteering with Bendigo and I worked at the fire station, so I knew a lot of people on the day," Mr Ellis said.
"It was an honour to represent the chief officer where I knew so many people."
Mr Ellis said award recipients ranged from front-line firefighters to members of incident management teams and people in planning and logistics roles.
"There were officers and volunteers from a number of brigades across district two," he said.
"It was such a significant event. I think it's important to acknowledge their contribution."
Mr Ellis said the district suffered fires with "unimaginable potential" on Black Saturday at Redesdale and Bendigo.
"The local people were able to pull them both up under extreme circumstances and on a wind change," he said.
"It's hard to imagine what would have happened with the fires on those days, under unprecedented conditions."
Mr Ellis said the event was an emotional occasion for many people, providing closure on the ordeal of Black Saturday.
"It was a relief because they can consider it’s now over."