David Worboys has 30 years experience on fire grounds, but considers himself lucky to still be out fighting them.
More than 20 people have lost their lives this fire season and the Bolwarra-Largs Rural Fire Brigade deputy captain said hearing that "makes you step back".
"Particularly when you hear about RFS people who have died - because that could have been us," he said.
"The situations that they've been in and that's happened, that could be us tomorrow."
Mr Worboys said while this fire season is similar to 1994, when four people died and more than 200 homes were lost, it has been more active than any other he can remember.
He said high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds "happened every year" but those factors combined with a lack of ground and fuel moisture had caused havoc this season.
"There's the potential for a fire to start and spread very easily when you've got that recipe," he said.
"When they all join up and you have the fuel that's dry and ground that's dry that's when it's really bad. You've got all the holes in the cheese lining up."
Another big issue for crews this season has been the number of fallen trees.
"That seems to be a lot higher than any other year," Mr Worboys said. "All I can put it down to is the drought. We're actually seeing trees that are falling in spots they wouldn't normally fall.
"That is a big hazard for us. Some of the fatalities were related to fallen trees. It's hard to know - you look and listen, but sometimes it just happens."
The risk of falling trees is just one of many things running through Mr Worboys' mind while an intense blaze takes hold in front of him.
"On hot days when the fires running, the winds blowing, you're on property protection - your focus is first on protecting yourself and other people and after that, property," he said.
Mr Worboys said the first thing to consider is where to go if he gets into trouble.
"Because things can change so quickly," he said. "And myself being a crew leader, how am I going to look after the crew. Where's our safety refuge. What hazards are there - there may be a gas tank or a fuel tank.
"Then after that, how are we going to use the resources we've got to fight the fire. We may have a dam or a dozer truck."
Mr Worboys said thankfully, he hasn't been in any really hairy situations this season, despite the ferocity of the fires so far.
Fierce blazes have been burning across the country since August and Mr Worboys said local crews were now involved in more out-of-area commitments than ever - partly due to better technology and resources within the organisation allowing easier communication.
Mr Worboys traveled to help fight fires at Tenterfield, Glen Innes and Kempsey at the end of last year. And he did it all while on annual leave from his job as an engineer.
"I take annual leave for deployments out of area," he said. "Not everybody does that. It's generally a five day deployment - one day up, three days on the fire ground and one day home."
He described the shifts on deployment as "reasonable days" - 12, 13, 14 hours at a time.
"You get back, sleep and you go again," he said.
But it all comes as part of a balance for Mr Worboys - one that has taken him a while to perfect.
"Before I was married, I was probably spending too much time here," he said. "But you learn. You don't get grey hair for nothing.
"You've got to juggle your work and your family and your RFS. Ultimately we are volunteers, we're not getting paid. Obviously family comes first and you've got to do the right thing by work and RFS is in there somewhere too."
In saying that, Mr Worboys said the juggle can take its toll on his loved ones.
"My family are very supportive but it is hard on them," he said. "I could sit down for dinner and the pager could go off. I say see you later and I might not see them for 10 hours or so."
Mr Worboys said when he is called into action he relies on the support of his second family - his fellow RFS members. And it's something he still does despite his years of experience.
"We're all looking out each other," he said. "Just because I'm a deputy captain, it doesn't mean we're not all there for each other. We're a team. If we don't look out for each other we won't survive."
That support and camaraderie has been crucial this season, particularly due to the devastation crews have witnessed on the ground. Along with more than 20 deaths, thousands of homes have been lost and millions of animals have perished.
"There were some members who did see the devastation, and ... it wasn't good," Mr Worboys said.
"One of the big things in the RFS is looking after your mate and that might be 'have you had enough water to drink?', 'have you seen that cliff there?, or it may be 'you've had a bad experience, are you alright?'
"We are all there bottom line as a team and in doing that - you've gotta be there for people when those situations happen. It may be a car accident or a bad fire at a house. It doesn't have to be one of those big fires."
Mr Worboys said in those times, the job can be testing and it could be easy to just stop. But what drives him back is wanting to do his bit for the community, and another reason he considers "selfish" - but perhaps few would agree.
"I do this for friendship and mateship," he said. "Some people go to bowls, some people join a cricket club. For me it's my little family outside family and work, and that's the selfish part."
What also helps is the support from the community, which Mr Worboys said has been great this year.
A particularly moving gift the brigade received was decorated lolly bags donated by some children at Largs.
"It was terrific," he said. "We actually take a couple of packets each out on the fire and when you've got a quiet time it gives you a bit of a lift. It's really special."
That lift is sure going to be needed in the months ahead. Mr Worboys said even though the temperatures will drop after summer, crews will continue to have an uphill battle until there is decent rain.
And he said while the donations had been fantastic, a great way people can help is by joining their local brigade.
"It doesn't have to be someone on the frontline fighting a fire," he said. "We've got people 16 to 80 years old. There are lots of jobs in the RFS."