Macarthur volunteer firefighter looks back on devastating fire season

Heroes: Varroville RFS senior deputy captain Jason Johnson and his fellow volunteers.
Heroes: Varroville RFS senior deputy captain Jason Johnson and his fellow volunteers.

Throughout this year's fire season Australia's unsung heroes were finally recognised for the hardwork that they do.

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers were stretched to the limit battling fires on several fronts and supporting their families.

Varroville RFS senior deputy captain Jason Johnson knows all too well what it was like.

Mr Johnson was tasked with battling the Green Wattle Creek fire which destroyed or damaged more than 30 homes in Wollondilly.

"I spent a fair amount of time from November through to January battling the fire from Wallacia through to Warragamba," he said.

"It's hard to describe just what it was like.

"The fire was different every day, it was different in every area.

"The energy was particularly heightened when we were working to protect people's homes."

The Campbelltown resident has been a proud volunteer with the RFS for the past 16 years.

"I've been to quite a few major fire events in that time," Mr Johnson said.

"The fire was a bit different to others I had worked in the past but every fire is different - they are never the same.

"This one was just flaring up differently to what I had seen before and I think that was due to the dry season that we had had.

"It was a very long dry spell."

Mr Johnson said when he started fighting the fire he had no idea how long the blaze would rage.

"Did I think I would still be fighting the fire in February when we had been fighting it since November? No I definitely did not," he said.

As the Green Wattle Creek bushfire continued to burn locals started donating money, food, water and other items to help volunteers continue the fight.

The proud firefighter said he had never seen anything like it.

"It was an unbelievable feeling of support," Mr Johnson said.

"Residents seemed to be more concerned about how we were than whether their homes were still standing.

"It was amazing to see everyone get behind us like that."

Mr Johnson said volunteering with the RFS had been extremely rewarding but was not for everyone.

"My brigade is very tight-knit - they are like my second family," he said.

"It's not a job for everyone because you have to be able to drop everything when required and you need the full support of your family.

"But just the feeling of being able to help people, you cannot put a price on that."