Twice in her short life 20-year-old Emma Bavington has had her home destroyed by bushfire. Once in 2014 in the Grampians, and once in 2017 in Carwoola.
It was after the Carwoola fires that she decided it was time to join her local Rural Fire Service brigade.
Her dad, Peter, is a captain in a nearby brigade and had been urging her to join for a while.
"I decided I didn't want to feel that helpless again," Miss Bavington recalled.
"To be honest, I wish I'd joined earlier."
A week ago, she was one of 28 volunteers from the Queanbeyan region to travel to Port Macquarie to help battle raging bushfires. Another Queanbeyan-based group relieved them on Wednesday.
The intensity of the situation up north was increasing when the first strike team including Miss Bavington arrived on Saturday night. To get there, they drove through active fires and at Newcastle, about halfway to their destination, they were requested to turn on their lights and sirens to quicken the trip.
On their arrival that night they were put to work immediately, putting out spot fires at Telegraph Point, where they would return a few days later to help protect homes.
For the next two days they hosted community meetings, encouraged residents to leave early and helped to prepare for the forecast catastrophic conditions.
Miss Bavington said it was quite emotional, particularly when talking to people who had lost their homes or were worried about losing them.
"Even driving down some of the roads where all the trees are ablaze around us, it's just really eerie," she said.
On Tuesday, day three of their deployment, they were sent back to Telegraph Point where the fire was now threatening homes. The forecast for the day was particularly horrific, and weather conditions were set to get worse with a wind change was predicted to come through late in the day.
Miss Bavington and the team spent the day protecting properties and trying to knock down the fire. There were no additional resources available, so they pulled a double shift and were on the fireground until about 4am the following day.
Jerrabomberra Creek Rural Fire Service member Sean Dortkamp, 29, was travelling as part of the team and said thankfully, when the wind change arrived about midnight it wasn't as intense as in other parts of the state.
"We were going to knock off about 2.30am and just as we were pulling into the car park [of the accommodation], the mattress a hundred metres away, we got called back out to Telegraph Point as a spot fire had destroyed a truck and a car. We were there until about 4.30 in the morning," Mr Dortkamp said.
Both he and Miss Bavington couldn't believe the hospitality they received. Students from the Charles Sturt University campus had moved out of their rooms and provided clean linen and toiletries for the travelling firefighters. They even brought in caterers to feed them.
"We were really well fed and really well looked after," Mr Dortkamp said.
He said it made a huge difference to their energy levels the following day, being able to sleep in a proper bed rather than on the floor, and being well fed.
On their return to Queanbeyan, Mr Dortkamp came home to two excited dogs and a very relieved fiancee.
Miss Bavington's dad Peter, who she shared her location with while she was on the fire ground so he wouldn't worry, was waiting at the fire shed on their arrival.
"It's always going to be dangerous but you feel better when you're able to make a difference, and I feel like we did that," she said.
An assessment update from the NSW Rural Fire Service on Saturday said 303 homes were destroyed and 102 were damaged, but more than 2600 buildings in the direct area impacted by the fires were saved.