Phillipa Drewett has been part of the Burrawang Rural Fire Service brigade for the last 11 years, and was recently named the Illawarra Adult Volunteer of the Year.
The Burrawang local is the President and training officer of the brigade, where one of her duties is training incoming volunteers.
She attended the 2021 Volunteer of the Year Awards over Zoom last Friday when she received the accolade.
"I was really shocked, I had no idea at all," she said.
"There were lots of incredible volunteers who were nominated who have done amazing things."
The volunteer firefighter said she has loved serving for the RFS.
"I have been involved all of my life," Mrs Drewett said.
"It was part of growing up on the land out west - my father was a firefighter, and my brothers also volunteered.
"I had a vivid memory growing up where there was a bad fire season and a drought.
"My father and brothers went out and helped with the fire, and did not think about it.
"I remembered everyone getting involved and helping where they could."
It was not only her parents and siblings that have volunteered - Mrs Drewett's husband and children have also dedicated time to the Burrawang RFS.
She said it has been rewarding to give back to the Highlands community after she moved to the region.
"I have loved doing it here locally, it has been a very important and needed job," the President and training officer began.
"I was happy to help and put my hand up."
"It has given me lots of personal growth, it has pushed my boundaries."
She also said it was an "empowering experience" and it was "great to see women in leadership."
The volunteer has also undertaken a crew leader course at the brigade which she said was a "very big step."
"I would be in charge of the crew and the truck when we go out to an incident," she explained.
Mrs Drewett was also thankful for the 30 brigade members and the broader community.
"It's the camaraderie of the team, we had a fantastic team of wonderful people from all walks of life," she said.
"One of the biggest things about volunteering, is lots of hours away from families, so I also wanted to thank families of other volunteers.
"I also wanted to say thank you to my family."
Burrawang RFS fought fires across the region in areas like Bundanoon and Fitzroy Falls from September 2019, and travelled across NSW to "manage people and the situation."
"It was a huge job," Mrs Drewett continued.
"We worked continuously, which was lots of hard hours."
Despite COVID separating the brigade, Burrawang RFS has "not stopped" since the devastating fires in 2019 and 2020.
"We went up to Wiseman's Ferry to help with the floods," Mrs Drewett began.
"I have seen what fires have done to people and their properties, the floods were just as bad.
"We have also been called out for storm damage, motor vehicle accidents, house and structural fires and to assist the ambulance.
"We have also began preparing for the summer.
"It has been challenging and rewarding."
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