Armed with a fire extinguisher, Daniel McMillan ran into a burning Perth home after hearing screams and seeing a neighbour rush out of the house carrying a child.
Edward John Herbert, who was naked and in a drug-induced psychosis, had set his three-year-old daughter on fire and also doused her autistic sister with petrol.
Mr McMillan described the smell as he entered the Doubleview home as “like burnt bacon”.
“I’m not sure what was going through my mind. I wasn’t really thinking about it, that’s probably why I did what I did,” he told AAP.
Herbert lunged at his neighbour with a filleting knife that had a 20cm blade, attempting to stab Mr McMillan in the abdomen.
But Mr McMillan was able to dodge the attack and hit Herbert on the head with the fire extinguisher.
Mr McMillan is receiving a bravery medal for his heroics on August 28, 2015, but says he was just running on adrenaline and doing what he thought was right.
“Every child should be able to have somewhere safe to live,” he said.
“I just did what I thought was right at the time.
“More people should do these things, then the world might be a better place.”
Herbert, who had shouted that aliens were going to get him and claimed “the werewolf is coming” before he attacked his daughters, was later found guilty of several offences and sentenced to 17 years behind bars.
Mr McMillan said he could not bring himself to attend the trial.
He said he was proud and thankful to receive the award but did not think his actions would be considered “such a big deal”.
“I was surprised to be nominated for a bravery medal. I wasn’t expecting it. Other people did lots of things that night.”
Mr McMillan said he remained the type of person who would speak out if he saw someone doing something wrong.