Far South Coast firefighters had stepped up well before the Currowan fire started on November 26, RFS Community Safety Officer Marty Webster says.
"A really significant thing to realise and acknowledge is that our volunteers had been away on numerous strike team deployments before Currowan," he said.
"We had been helping elsewhere in the state and some of our volunteers had already been exposed to horrific conditions.
"When Currowan kicked off, that was time to pull everyone back and make sure we were ready to fight on our home turf.
"I started working out of Shoalhaven dealing with communities from Nowra to Batemans Bay, trying to get people prepared for what may happen.
"What did happen was beyond our expectations. What was really different was how widespread the fires were.
"Resources were stretched. Normally we can get assistance from out of area, but most areas were fighting their own fires."
Thankfully, Mr Webster said it was "reassuring to know most people were listening to and following our advice".
"We did not end up having too many people left in harm's way. There were a number of days there we were simply protecting life and then whatever properties we could."
As summer looms Mr Webster understands people are anxious, but offers reassurance - and a call to action.
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"The first days are going to be really challenging for people, but we are in a much better place than this time last year. Our drought factor is something like four at the moment, when it was 10 last year."
However, he wants entire households to develop "clear and concise" fire plans.
"Plans can look really different for different situations, but the important thing is to think about it and know what each other is going to do," he said.