In November 2019 Mark Williams, Shoalhaven RFS district manager, had just returned home to his family after a 75-day campaign against an enormous blaze in Glen Innes.
He was not to enjoy much time with them.
"I think I had one day in the office before Currowan broke out," he said.
It was the start of a relentless summer for Mr Williams, who became the incident controller for Currowan, and for many, the face of the emergency.
By the time the fire was out, almost everyone in the Shoalhaven had met Mr Williams at a town-hall meeting, heard his voice on the radio, or read his updates in the newspaper.
He said it became apparent very early that the fire would not be extinguished by manpower alone, and the best the RFS could hope to do was protect lives and property until the "monster" was doused by rainfall.
"The weather was our biggest issue," he said.
"We did firefighting practices we would never normally do under those conditions, because we knew it was only going to get worse.
"Before, it would be unusual to see one pyrocumulonimbus in a season, and they almost became the norm."
The unpredictable weather affected 2000km of fire-front, which made decisions about where to allocate resources challenging.
Conditions would change in a heartbeat, and put a different area under threat.
"It was the biggest event I've ever had to deal with," Mr Williams said.
"We were overwhelmed with the amount of work and were unable to do everything we wanted, which was to save every life and every property.
"It was like a chess board, trying to move pieces around to where they will have the best impact and save the most life and property.
"Even if you stretch yourself as thin as you possibly can, ultimately you have to make calculated decisions based on the information that's coming in.
"It's very high impact on the old brain and you do the best you can at the time with the information and resources you have."
One of the toughest decisions was to order visitors to leave the South Coast.
If that choice had not been made, Mr Williams believes the number of fatalities would have been much higher.
While Mr Williams acknowledged improvements could be made in future, he said he wouldn't change a single decision made during the 2020 Summer.
"I won't say we got it right all the time, and it's good to be critical of the choices we made, because that's how we learn," he said.
"But we did do a hell of a lot of good. I couldn't be prouder of everybody involved."