They are deep in the bushland around Canberra, proud of the city they are defending.
In the shed of the Adaminaby Rural Fire Service at the southern end of the Namadgi and Kosciuszko national parks, a cross-section of Australia is ready to defend the country's capital, everybody from a former prime minister to a lad who can barely be in his mid-teens.
And 19 men and two women from Canberra itself, united in a convoy and accompanied by an ACT ambulance crew, heading off to do their best for their home town.
Tony Abbott goes his own way, no grand-standing, just a member of the strike team from the Northern Beaches in Sydney. "He's just a firefighter doing hard work. He's doing the hard yards," says another firefighter.
And the Canberra team heads out - just firefighters doing hard work, doing the hard yards.
Brigades from Gunghalin Command, Tidbinbilla 20 (to give it its correct name), Molonglo 31, Southern 30, Guises Creek 30 and Jerrabomberra 20 patrolled, as the winds and heat whipped up, constantly stopping in thick smoke and moving into the forest on foot to extinguish spot-fires.
The Canberra crews are a cross-section of the city.
Craig Greenwood arrived from Britain eight years ago and still hasn't shaken off his soft west of England accent.
Nor has he shaken off his dry British humour.
Why did he join the Rural Fire Service pretty well immediately? "To save the world, but hey!"
And then he gets serious and says the real reason was to meet people. "I came over from the UK and I knew nobody," Mr Greenwood said.
"These guys are my Australian family - just being part of this group and making a difference."
When he tells his friends in the UK that he and the rest of the RFS are volunteers, the British are incredulous. "They all find it unbelievable that I do it and I don't get paid for it," he said.
"Not that I want paying. I'm a volunteer."
They all say that, sometimes quietly as though they don't want to brag. "Doing it for the community," keeps cropping up.
Benita Ainsworth is a solicitor in Canberra and a volunteer with the RFS. She studied law at the University of London before returning to Australia.
What would her British friends think about volunteering for such an arduous and dangerous job? "They would be surprised," she answered.
Ms Ainsworth said the Canberra RFS reflected the Canberra community and she liked that. "You stay because of the people. You have people from all walks of life."
She says she is never in fear because of the people around her - her comrades, though she doesn't use the word.
Nor does she use the word "fear" - "trepidation" is the way she describes it. "There's always a little bit of trepidation going into dangerous situations. You don't want to be with people who don't have trepidation.
"But you can't panic - just be aware."
Sixty-three-year-old Alan Ashman is a retired naval officer. He eventually found himself in a desk job in Canberra and joined the RFS in 2004 to learn new skills.
"And I wanted to support the community. I learn skills and I help the community I live in."
Scott Cashmere works in the Maritime Safety Authority. He is married with two young children and he's been in the RFS for 23 years, more than half his life.
Why did he join at the age of 18? "It was that long ago, I forget."
But adds, "I just wanted to get involved in a community group."
That word "community" again.
He has a way with words. As the heat rises, he says the clouds are visible on the Bureau of Meterology satellite map and that means the heat will be "dancing" - dancing - so the extra energy of the fire makes it wilder.
"That means it's starting to generate a lot of energy. It's going to start to make its run and that can lead to it generating its own weather conditions."
Is that frightening? "No because I'm surrounded by good people."
He is sometimes in awe of fire and nature.
On December 21, he was fighting the big fire threatening Nerriga. "It was the longest day of the year but it was dark at 5pm," he said.
There's a student from the ANU in the Canberra crew. Jacob Lemmey is 20 and studying international relations.
He said the RFS was about "local communities coming together in times of disaster."