It's the simple acts that stand out in an emergency. They can be small but they mean the world. The paramedic who asks whether you're all right and offers water. The volunteer firefighter who after hours of tough battle is happy to talk about their experiences. The club that offers free tucker to emergency services personnel. The people from Rotary who put on a barbecue to sustain the soot smeared firies.
If anything good ever happens in a fire emergency, it is this - peril brings people together with a common purpose.
At the front line is an army of volunteers in harm's way, doing their best to protect lives and property. Many are retired, with too many miles on the clock. Yet their energy is breathtaking. Twelve hours of heavy slog on the fire ground, fitful sleep where they can, back into it without complaint - these are the heroes whose names we'll probably never know.
They are the crews from outside the region, some fighting a fire on the coast when their own part of the world is burning. We chanced upon them in Ulladulla on Friday evening. Crews from the Southern Tablelands fighting the Currowan blaze while a conflagaration bore down on Braidwood in their own neck of the woods.
At the rear are heroes of another kind. The incident controller in the command vehicle, jockeying a deluge of radio calls from the field, calmly pulling all the information together from a dynamic situation and deploying crews to where they're needed most. The support crew, manhandling a pallet of drinking water into a portable cold room. The ambos, ready to treat the injured. The police, directing people from danger.
On the highway - desolate, empty and cast in a weird orange glow - they come, truck after truck. Most are Rural Fire Service brigades, some Fire & Rescue strike teams. They're heading into danger while others make for refuge, having decided to get out while there's still time. The sight of them is inspiring and humbling at the same time.