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Wodonga hosts National Emergency Medal Ceremony
Last week in Wodonga, Chief Officer Joe Buffone had the honour of presenting more than 80 National Emergency Medals for service during Black Saturday fires to CFA District 24 volunteers and staff.
It was Joe’s first National Emergency Medal presentation as Chief Officer, an event that he described as “profoundly moving”. The presentation ceremony for the Medal was held during National Volunteer Week.
“It was important for us to hold the ceremony during National Volunteer Week,” said District 24 Operations Manager Paul King. “It’s one other way we can recognise volunteer service past and present.”
Recently, District 24 volunteers and staff were once again at the frontlines fighting the December 2015 Barnawartha fires.
“I’m sure that the fires reminded people of Black Saturday conditions,” said Paul King. “The significance of the 2009 fires and the National Emergency Medal hasn’t diminished. The Medal ceremony is always a difficult time. Memories are etched on peoples’ minds.”
Chief Officer Joe Buffone used his address to recount the conditions as well the courage and commitment to community displayed by recipients.
"The conditions were difficult and dangerous – beyond extreme in every sense of the word. You did your best. In the face of nature’s fury, you stood fast. You gave your all.
“Brigades, small crews, strike teams, task forces and incident management teams stood side by side with the community.”
In addition to CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone, other speakers at the ceremony included Ms Jaclyn Symes MLC, Member for Northern Victoria; Mr Ross Coyle, CFA Board Member; Mr Michael Freudenstein, Deputy Group Officer for the Oven’s Valley Group, who served as Master of Ceremonies; and Ms Julie Reeves, District Support Coordinator, District 24 who served as Assistant Master of Ceremonies.
The event was smoothly organised by the team at District 24 with support from CFA’s Volunteerism Team.
Members from the following brigades were recipients of National Emergency Medals:
Allans Flat Fire Brigade, Baranduda Fire Brigade, Beechworth Fire Brigade, Chiltern Fire Brigade, Dederang Fire Brigade, Eskdale Fire Brigade, Gundowring Fire Brigade, HVP Plantations – Ovens, Mudgegonga Fire Brigade, Myrtleford Fire Brigade, Rutherglen Fire Brigade, Stanley Fire Brigade, Tawonga Fire Brigade, Wodonga West Fire Brigade, Wooragee Fire Brigade