The Country Fire Authority's highest award for bravery, the Valor Medal, was awarded to Willaura Rural Brigade member Mr Joe Ryan for an act of bravery few could imagine.
Now a permanent reminder of Joe's presentation is on display in the new Country Fire Authority's District 16 Headquarters.
Only in exceptional cases is the Valor Medal awarded and Joe was only the eighth fireman to be so honoured.
The honour was bestowed as a result of his actions at a house fire in the early morning hours of October 21, 1976.
At great risk to his own life he entered the burning building three times, and clearly with no thought to his own safety, rescued five children, the babysitter and the family dog.
In Willaura Fire Brigade's commemorative book From Buckets to Brigades, Joe explained how he was woken by unusual brightness in his house and realised the house across Ayrey St, was on fire.
He knew the children's father was working night shift and their mother was in hospital having a baby.
The children, Leonie, Mark, Pauline, Peter and Wayne Cordwell, were aged between two and ten.
After dashing into the blazing home several times Joe had rescued all but one.
The young babysitter and two of the children were easy as they were in a part of the house not yet on fire, but the others were already overcome by the smoke and heat.
As they were found Joe passed them out to his wife Mary, who took them across the road and placed them on a mattress on their front verandah.
Making yet another try, Joe stumbled across a whimpering bundle on the floor.
Scooping it up, he rushed it out, only to find he'd rescued the family dog.
Entry to the children's bedroom was through the window across a bed but in the smoke and chaos, Joe hadn't realised there was a bunk bed above.
Back in he went and found young Peter unconscious and in a bad way on the top bunk.
It took the combined efforts of the brigade's communication officer, Harold Hockley, a first aid instructor, together with nurse Elaine Conboy, Doctor Handscombe and policeman Merv Goodson to revive the young lad with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation according to Joe.
Mr Ryan credited his CFA training as a teenager at Penshurst for saving the lives of the last three children, and said he would do it again if in the same situation.
Mr. Ryan was presented with the medal by the CFA's deputy chairman, Mr. Col Diffy at a dinner in Willaura attended by 90 CFA officials and district people.
Among those present was Maree Sawitsch, the babysitter pulled from the burning house.