Silverdale has lost one of its most dedicated community servants with the death of Harry McLachlan.
Mr McLachlan was the long-time captain of the Silverdale Rural Fire Brigade and one of only two life members in the service.
Deputy Captain Matt Gould said the entire brigade had been "hit quite hard" by Mr McLachlan's passing.
"Harry's contribution to the Silverdale Rural Fire Brigade cannot be overstated," he said.
"He personally taught me the ropes when I joined, as he taught most of the brigade's current officers.
"We almost question whether the brigade would still be around without Harry - at one point we were down to seven members but Harry helped us bring it back up to the 40 or 50 we have now."
Mr McLachlan had been retired from the brigade for several years.
He joined the crew in 1975 and spent more than three decades protecting the area from blazes, including the devastating Black Christmas bushfires of 2001.
"We lost dozens of homes in those fires and I think things would have looked very different without Harry in the brigade," Mr Gould said.
In addition to his 15-year tenure as Silverdale Rural Fire Brigade captain, Mr McLachlan served as brigade treasurer for more than 10 years.
He was also awarded the NSW RFS Long Service and a RFS National Medal medal for his unending dedication to the community.
Mr Gould said Mr McLachlan earned his life member status with the brigade in 2008.
"That is the highest honour a brigade can bestow on one of its members," he said.
"We only have two life members, so it's not something we give out lightly.
"During his time with the brigade Harry was a mentor and a friend to many within the brigade.
"He will be sorely missed."
Firefighters from several other local fire brigades - including Orchard Hills, Wallacia, Douglas Park and Thirlmere - shared their deepest condolences on Facebook following the announcement of Mr McLachlan's passing.