A new batch of volunteer firefighters in the Riverina have been undergoing training as the region sees a spike in new applications following the devastating bushfires over the summer.
Across NSW, over 35,000 people have inquired about joining the Rural Fire Service since July 1 2019, up from just over 1850 over the same period last year.
8000 people have put in applications, with interest peaking firstly in mid-November and then again in January 2020.
RFS Riverina Zone membership services officer John Baker said 2020 had seen an increase in local sign-ups with 77 applications, 24 of whom had already completed their training despite the additional challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Personal protective equipment and additional cleaning has allowed training to continue for those who feel comfortable, with tentative dates set to get the remaining applicants through their training as restrictions ease.
Mr Baker said the increase in sign-ups was "very, very helpful" as the RFS fights to keep volunteer numbers strong as technological developments see a reduction in the traditional volunteer base; farmers.
"In Coolamon, Junee and Lockhart... and to a big extent even in Wagga we rely on the farming community," he said.
"We're really fighting an uphill battle in that area, how do we get people to be in the RFS and also be part of the community."
He said it was promising to see more women signing up as volunteers, and said a few female sign-ups in a brigade often "break the dam's wall" and inspire others to join.
Among nine volunteers who recently completed their training at the Yarragundry RFS Brigade Station is Jess Goldsworthy.
Ms Goldsworthy said since her family moved into their current home, a neighbour had often mentioned to her husband the benefits of joining up and she eventually decided it was something she wanted to do herself.
"I just wanted to be a part of it I guess," she said.
"There was a fire out at Yarragundry about six months ago, and I just thought it was a little bit close to home."
Ms Goldsworthy said she was able to complete most of her training before social distancing restrictions and recently had some hands-on experience with pile burns at Yarragundry and assisting in the recent hazard reduction burn at Willans Hill.
With options available for volunteers to join whether they wish to attend fires or work behind the scenes, Ms Goldsworthy said she was hoping to do some of both.
"Definitely those (fires) that are around the area I want to get on the fire ground, but I work in admin so I'm happy to help out wherever," she said.
"I think it'll be a rewarding thing to be a part of."