Fire and Rescue NSW Port Macquarie's leading station officer says he's extremely proud of all the firefighters for their hard work during the bushfire crisis.
Gaven Muller said there are 23 full time firefighters from the Port Macquarie-Hastings region, who have been under the pump fighting blazes since June.
Another 300 firefighters from the service are on call for support, as well as admin staff who represent the backbone of the station.
While Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters are paid, Mr Muller said many of the firefighters don't do it for the money.
"They do it because they want to help their own community," he said.
Firefighters from Fire and Rescue NSW have worked alongside others from NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Forestry Corporation to protect lives, properties and the environment over the past several weeks.
Mr Muller was duty commander for fire crews at Jacky Bulbin, in the northern rivers region.
A crew rescued a koala they found trying to escape the flames.
"The wind was pushing the flames really hard, so it was pretty intense," Mr Muller said.
As firefighters, Mr Muller said they see a lot of death and it's good to have little things to boost morale of the crew.
As a 17-year-old, Mr Muller started out with the fire service and has been involved in fighting fires for 25 years.
Mr Muller said the recent fire crisis represented the most intense start to a fire season he's witnessed.
He said the dry conditions are making the fires difficult to control and contain. The lack of rain has been detrimental to the effort, as it's an element which can traditionally be used to control blazes.
Firefighters are envisioning they are going to be very busy over the summer period and Mr Muller is urging people to have their bushfire survival plans in place.
While fighting a fire recently at Possum Brush, south of Taree, Mr Muller said his crew got caught in a fire storm.
"We had to withdraw from protecting properties as it was too unsafe for us to be there," he said.
It's Mr Muller's job to assess risk to firefighters before he commits a crew to fighting a blaze, taking into consideration their skills.
"We had a fantastic working relationship with all fire agencies who worked with us," he said.
Mr Muller said he enjoys meeting different people, helping members of the community and making a difference.
Firefighters have been overwhelmed with the amount of gifts and supportive messages they have received.
"After working for 16 hours flat out, reading notes from children and the fantastic residents of the Hastings just lifts everyone's spirits," Mr Muller said.
Fire and Rescue NSW zone commander Inspector Rod Chetwynd said the firefighters from the service were instrumental in saving a number of lives and properties an he thanked them for their tireless efforts.
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