When Troy Heath joined the Darlington Point Rural Fire Service over two decades ago he was thrown in the deep end, and he hasn't stopped swimming since.
He unofficially joined the RFS 24 years ago when an out-of-control fire in Hay started creeping its way to the Coleambally/Darlington Point area.
He had no fire training, no gear, and no experience, but what he did have was a pair of hands and a desire to help the people in his community.
He asked some local firefighters if they needed some help, and they said they were glad to have him on board.
"It was just 'jump on the truck and away you go'," he said. "I didn't even have any gear. Just trousers and a shirt."
He joined the RFS volunteers in beating back the Hay fires threatening his hometown, and to this day he remembers how it felt.
"It was very exciting, the rush of it," he said.
He then officially signed up to the Darlington Point brigade, and he's been learning the finer points of firefighting ever since.
On Saturday Mr Heath returned on his fourth deployment of the season from Tumut, where he battled raging fires in new and unfamiliar conditions.
"We're used to fighting fires on flat ground, we've never been in the hills chasing fires like that," Mr Heath said. "There's always a learning curve. No two fires are the same."
Despite the grueling conditions, Mr Heath decided to lend a hand to the Tumut firefighters in order to "give the poor buggers a break".
"It does take it out of you, mentally and physically," he said. "I do it because I enjoy doing it, and someone's got to bloody do it."
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