DESPITE encountering a couple of "scary situations," Shell Cove's Ian Cox has never regretted his 34 years as a volunteer firefighter.
A member of the Dunmore Bush Fire Brigade, Mr Cox has been named as one of 23 finalists for this year's Pride of the Illawarra Awards.
The Rotary-organised POI Awards that pays recognition to the work done by paid and volunteer members of the services.
Mr Cox, a 66-year-old retiree, said the experiences he's had and the people he's met have been reward enough.
"I first joined up in 1969. We were living down the coast a bit so I joined the Berry brigade, we moved up here a few years later," he said.
"I enjoy doing it and it really makes you feel like you belong in the community. There's been some scary moments like in 2002 when we were up on Mt Keira protecting the radio tower and restaurant.
"We were waiting for the fire to come through all day and then it did right on dark, it took about 10 minutes for it to pass us and in that time we used all the water we had, something like 25,000 litres, and for that 10 minutes it was like somebody was throwing lit matches at you."
Mr Cox also donated his time to help the next generation of volunteers.
"I've recently started taking part in a high school cadet program where students do their training and come out ready to join a brigade.
"The response has been fantastic, the kids really enjoy it and really get stuck in. We can't keep up with the demand of the schools asking to come along."
The other finalists in the NSW Fire Service category are Roslyn Banfield, Colin Crawford and Ron Caitlin.
The award winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the University of Wollongong on Friday, August 8. For more information head to prideoftheillawarra.com.au.