The first thing RFS Air Attack Supervisor Sean Bremner wants people to know about firefighting aircraft is that they're part of a team.
"Aircraft don't put out fires, we just slow them up for the men and women on the ground," he said.
"The RFS, Fire and Rescue, Parks, Forestry, Navy, police, ambulance, many NSW government departments all come together to protect lives and property."
Aircraft play a unique role in fighting fires. Although they don't put fires out, they can slow their spread.
They are able to accurately map firefronts and see what communities are at risk at any given time. Messages to at-risk communities are primed in advance. Once air crews identify where the fire is going, they contact the control room, which activates the warning texts. Sometimes they can be sent in just 10 minutes.
Air crews can also provide information to ground crews about hazards such as power poles. And in extreme situations, like Saturday, December 21, Navy helicopters are able to rescue people trapped on properties before the blaze reaches them.
"When it first came in south of Wandandian it got really ugly quickly," he said.
"We're in there with a Navy MRH helicopter, and he's dropping down and grabbing people from properties."
He praised the Navy's support, and said HMAS Albatross welcomed fire crews "year after year with open arms".
Mr Bremner, of Worrigee, said there were up to five radios being used in a single aircraft at any time. His role is to "coordinate the aerial dance" of up to 13 aircraft, of different types, as they support crews on the ground.
"Power lines are our worst enemies," he said.
"Especially when you're in heavy smoke and trying to get in down low to do stuff. We're a close-knit team, we have each other's backs and we need to. It's all one big magic dance, but it works."
Mr Bremner has been an Air Attack Supervisor for 12 years, and has been in charge of up to 13 aircraft at a time during the current fire crisis in the Shoalhaven.
Three of those are the fixed-wing Fireboss, a yellow craft able to scoop water from rivers, lakes and the ocean.
"They've been a real benefit," Mr Bremner said.
"They'll pick up 3000 litres at a time. Some days here we've had them take just four minutes drop to drop. Five loads of that is equal to a large air tanker [LAT], and you can't get that turnaround time out of a LAT."
He said early in his career the role had been challenging, particularly when fixed-wing aircraft were introduced to work alongside helicopters.
"As you get more experience it becomes easier," he said. "There are moments of anguish when you're watching people in their yards, but I can focus on the job."
Fire conditions mean it's not always possible - or safe - to fly. Often smoke means visibility is too low to fly.
He said despite all the challenges, he loved his job.
"I can make a difference quickly, as long as I do the right thing and I have all the right people happening," he said.
"I love that. That is my reward."