DIMBOOLA man William 'Bill' McCann will celebrate 60 years of service with the Dimboola Fire Brigade tomorrow.
Mr McCann, 78, said he joined the brigade to chase his dreams of becoming an athlete when he was 18.
"The brigade had a competition running team and I wanted to get involved in that," he said.
"I did about three or four years with the team and then had to give it away because of other sports but I came back for another six years later on."
Mr McCann won the Stawell Gift Australia's richest and most prestigious foot race in 1960 after competing in sprint competitions across Victoria.
He said the highlight of his six decades of service was the camaraderie and friendship among fire-fighters.
"I enjoyed the company of all the fellows, the people I have met and doing something for the community," he said.
"Fire-fighting was one of those things that somebody had to do but I have enjoyed it very much.
"You have to look after yourself and your mates first."
Mr McCann said a 1980 bushfire that destroyed five homes in Dimboola was one of the worst he faced.
"It started about eight or 10 kilometres out the road and then came right into town," he said.
"It was pretty scary because it did come all the way in and burnt down some people's homes."
Mr McCann joked that there was one fire that caused more devastation in the Wimmera town.
"The most devastating fire was the Dimboola Hotel burning down," he said.
Mr McCann said his son Grant McCann had followed in his footsteps by becoming a career fire-fighter in Warrnambool.
"He used to come with me to the station from the time he could walk," he said.
"It is all about giving back to the community that is the main part."
Despite his decades of community service, Mr McCann said his efforts weren't anything special.
"I said that all I wanted to do to celebrate was to have a few beers after the meeting that would do me," he said.
"I would do it all again."