Illawarra firefighters have been inspired by the kindness and gratitude shown by complete strangers over the past week.
Group captain for Dunmore Rural Fire Service Tony Hardy said he was in a McDonald's drive-through in his fire vehicle, on the way home from fighting fires, when a kind stranger paid for his meal.
"I got to the counter and the person behind said, 'Don't worry mate, it's been covered'," he said.
"It was paid for by the car in front of me.
"I beeped the horn and the gentleman waved back.
"I thought it was a pity I couldn't get his registration number to give him a personal thanks.
"I hope this person reads this and knows that their gesture is appreciated."
Acting divisional commander Grahame Fothergill appreciated the community's kindness.
"All of us from the Illawarra that worked in the East division haven't paid for a cup of coffee all week at the truck stop on Picton Road, about four or five kilometres east of Wilton," he said.
"He's such a nice guy there, he refuses to take a dollar.
"He was an RFS member in another life."
Last Thursday a stranger approached the strike team and showed patriotic pride due to their efforts, Mr Fothergill said.
"He came up, shook our hands and left," he said.
"It does inspire me, it pumps us right back up there every time we realise people appreciate it."
In another show of gratitude, Mr Fothergill was approached at 5.30am one morning while at a petrol station in Unanderra.
"I thought she was going to wrap her arms around me, but she just stopped short," he said.
"She chased me just to say thanks."
But it's not just strangers showing their gratitude to the RFS.
Sarah Raynor is both mother and wife of firefighters, Kallie and Marc Raynor. She organised a roster of 45 people to cook food for the Helensburgh RFS team.
"I put out a call ... for people to cook for the firies," she said.
"They said, 'What do you want and where do you want it?'
"People were randomly dropping into the fire shed and leaving food."
The Helensburgh resident decided to hold a fund-raising night for the RFS brigades in the 2508 postcode.
"We were having a private party that night, but talking with some friends we thought we would turn it into a benefit to show our appreciation," she said.
"We had a huge response on the Facebook page, and hundreds of people are coming."
It will be held on Friday, December 6, at the Helensburgh Workers Club and proceeds will be divided between the four RFS brigades in the area.
Inspector Michael Grey of the RFS Illawarra Zone said the best way for people to help was to have a bushfire safety plan.
"Please make sure you have a plan," he said. "It just helps us so much when we go in and people know what they're doing, they're not in thongs or shorts and the dead leaves around the property have been cleared."