AS temperatures start to climb again this week and we nervously watch for any threat of bushfire in our region, our thoughts should again turn to those who run towards the dangers the rest of us run from.
As temperatures again hit the high 30s across the Central West over the weekend, most of us were doing whatever we could to keep cool.
But those same high temperatures, pushed on by strong winds, also fanned the flames of a major bushfire on Orange’s Mount Canobolas that has been burning for the best part of four days now.
So instead of retreating to an air-conditioned home or office, scores of Rural Fire Service volunteers and firefighters drove determinedly towards the firezone.
Instead of fleeing the heat, they attacked it.
Those men and women intentionally put themselves in an environment that was as terribly dangerous as it was terribly uncomfortable, all the sake of protecting the property of others.
It has been a scene repeated countless times across our state this summer and with a later than usual start to bushfire season in our region, it might be repeated a few times yet before the cooler months arrive.
At the same time as those firefighters were battling a blaze on Mount Canobolas, another fire was starting to take hold north-west of Bathurst along the Freemantle Road.
That fire is also still burning and has claimed its first casualty with a female firefighter flown to Orange hospital after being injured on Sunday.
We all wish her a speedy recovery, but it is a miracle more firefighters are not hurt given the dangers they willingly take on for the sake of the rest of us.
This time of year is one of constant uncertainty for firefighters – both retained and volunteer – as they can never be sure what the next day might bring.
At a moment’s notice they might hurtling towards the flames of a fire to save the lives and the property of people they most likely have never met.
The call can come at any time of the day or night and that means firefighting must be more than just a job to them.
It becomes a way of life – a life that only those involved can properly appreciate.
The rest of us can only offer our thanks and respect for the work that they do, knowing that there will always be more to do tomorrow.