After 52 years battling fires and protecting his community Bega's Ernie Vinecombe has retired from firefighting.
Joining the Bega fire brigade as a young man, his prowess ensured he eventually became its captain, and he is a veteran of large scale disasters the Black Saturday, Tathra district and Black Summer bushfires.
"I wanted to join to put something back into the community and look after the community," Mr Vinecombe said on Tuesday.
"It just got into my blood.
"I've learned a lot over the years, really enjoyed it and passed on as much as I can to newer recruits. It's been wonderful."
The ways of fighting fires and the technology involved has understandably changed a lot since he became a firefighter.
"It's incredible most of us survived!" he said.
"Being a fireman in those days, as soon as an alarm went off OH and S went out the window."
For instance, he said the firefighters would have to go into a house filled with smoke that could also contain toxic gases, while nowadays firefighters used protective gear and breathing apparatuses.
Also, he recalled the first fire he attended - "I can see it as if it was not so many years ago" - was at a house that was filled with smoke, pouring out of the window.
Mr Vinecombe was on the hose helping spray high-pressure water through the door and so he could hear items getting smashed by the water inside, but when the smoke cleared and they turned the pump off they discovered only a lounge chair had been on fire.
"We practically wrecked the place with the water pressure!" he said.
These days with the newer equipment firefighters can enter a home filled with smoke and see that perhaps it was only some wood from a fireplace that had rolled out and been smoking badly, he said.
It is not just technology that has changed over the years, it is also the approach to fighting fires.
"Years ago the theory was the bigger the fire, the bigger the amount of water," Mr Vinecombe said.
"Now, we go to the base of the fire, which may not be very big."
It was clear Mr Vinecombe was going to leave a strong legacy behind him with the Bega brigade.
"He's the best captain that we've ever had," Bega captain Gerard Hanscombe said.
"What he's done for the community over the last 52 years, here in Bega and in Deniliquin, has been out of this world.
"It's big shoes to replace, especially with all that experience."
Mr Vinecombe plans to use his retirement from firefighting to continue going dancing with his wife as well as work on his farm at Candelo.
He said the rest of the crew at the Bega fire station were all "very good at what they do".
"I'm leaving on a good note knowing Bega is going to be safe," he said.