The Vigili del Fuoco were named the world's best firefighters at a competition known as 'the firefighting Oscars', in recognition of their work in assisting the earthquake-hit population of central Italy.
A series of major earthquakes over 6.0 magnitude rocked the mountainous Marche, Abruzzo and Lazio regions last year, the first one leaving 299 people dead, most of them from the town of Amatrice. Four more quakes in January caused chaos due to heavy snowfall at the same time, which left some families and entire villages isolated.
"The actions of the Italian winners are a prime example for exceptional teamwork," judges said. "Teams from 12 regions as well as large cities sped to the disaster area to help with all possible resources."
Italian teams assisted tens of thousands of people affected by the quakes, rescuing survivors from rubble, and working on reconstruction in the damaged towns. They also helped thousands more who were isolated by heavy snowfall in mid-January, and led rescue efforts at the avalanche-hit Hotel Rigopiano in Abruzzo.
The World of Firefighters - Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award has been running since 2013 and recognizes the men and women who risk their lives to serve the public, with winners chosen by a panel of judges and online voters.