Imagine feeding hundreds of hungry firefighters three times a day.
That's the scenario a group of Maitland Salvation Army volunteers found themselves in when they travelled to bone dry Glen Innes earlier this month to support the firefighters battling bushfires in the area.
They were based two hours from the danger zone at the Northern Tablelands Fire Control Centre Basecamp - a place where firefighters came to sleep and eat.
"It was intense being there, you threw your bag down and you were off. Sometimes you were working from 4.30am in the morning until 11pm at night. You just had to stand up to it, you do it because it's only a week-long stint and you can have a break after that," volunteer Tony Milburn said.
"I was helping the cook. We need a cook in that situation to work around. He did all the ordering and the menus and we helped him prepare it and serve it," Mr Milburn said.
Mr Millburn said there were 300 breakfasts, about 340 lunches and up to 400 dinners to prepare and serve via a buffet.
His wife Noeleen, who is the Salvation Army's Hunter co-ordinator, put the Maitland crew together from her hospital bed and sent them up there.
Volunteers have been rotating through the camp since late September and at the end of October more than 27,000 meals had been made.
It's the longest emergency catering period the Salvation Army has ever performed in the state.
Teams of 10 to 15 volunteers worked from 4.30am until 11pm. They worked together to shop for ingredients, prepare the food, cook it and clean up afterwards.
"It was really exhausting work as many of the volunteers are of the retired and older age group," volunteer Rae Pidgeon said.
It certainly is a rewarding effort and East Maitland members urge others to become accredited to assist in case of major incidents which helps strengthen the numbers available to volunteer at short notice.
Some of the volunteers were also members of the Kiwanis Club of East Maitland.
"As a Kiwanian we were sitting there thinking about the fires and what was happening," Mr Milburn said.
"We knew we couldn't throw money at these people, so we thought if we can get a team together we will go up and help. We thought that would be a better way of serving the community and working to get a better outcome.
We met a lot of firefighters from different areas. I was listening to some of their stories - stories that we don't see here. They were coming in and talking about the drought and the impact on the farmers. One of them was saying he went out to fight the fire and help a farmer but all the stock were dead - they had been burnt, and the farmer had to push all of them into a big hole,Maitland Salvation Army and East Maitland Kiwanis volunteer Tony Milburn
"You can't imagine what that would have been like for that farmer - it's their whole life going down into a hole. It affects the firefighters when they see that kind of thing as well."
Mr Milburn has been involved in similar volunteering efforts for more than 10 years. He urged anyone with a desire to help others to give it a go.
"We are in dire need of volunteers to help in that area. We've got training days coming up soon. Sometimes doing things like this can be very distressing and not everybody can handle it. I'm lucky I can handle it," he said.
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