The wife of a Lower Hunter firefighter has written an emotionally charged open letter to the Prime Minister pleading for him to listen to those on the fire grounds and offer them better support.
Amelia Attkins' Facebook post, which has been shared more than 900 times since it was uploaded on Wednesday afternoon, was written in response to Scott Morrison rejecting assertions that Rural Fire Service firefighters should be paid, saying the hardworking volunteers "want to be there".
She begins: "Dear Scott Morrison,
"My husband is a volunteer firefighter with the NSW RFS. He wasn't forced to sign up. He 'wants to be there'.
"He wants to ensure his neighbours have a place to live. He wants to make sure there is any form of ecosystem left at the end of this.
"He wants to not let down his community and fellow RFS members by turning up for sometimes 14 hour plus shifts.
"He wants to make the air clearer for his family."
But Mrs Attkins then asked the question: "does anyone really 'want to' be doing this"?
She outlined the things her husband is missing out on while he is out protecting lives and homes.
"He wants to make it to Christmas lunch," she said. "He wants to be home to play with our 7-month-old son.
"He wants to spend time with his family. He wants to know he can go on a summer holiday. This is what he really wants."
She said in the current climate, "want" had become insignificant, and has instead been replaced by "need".
"He needs to provide for his family. He needs to run his own business. He needs to pay the bills."
"He needs to turn up to fight the fires, to save homes and properties.
"He also needs to turn up to work to afford to live. Somewhere between it all he needs to sleep.
"I am led to believe you are a smart man (you do lead our country) so I invite you to do the calculations. Does it add up to you?
"Do you still think our RFS simply 'want to be there', or is there more to it?"
In a call to action, Mrs Attkins invited the prime minister to forgo his income and join the firefighters on the ground to see what the situation is really like.
"From what I hear it's a place people 'want' to be," she said.
"You might want to be desperately pleaded to [to] save a home whilst radioing for air support, and be responded to by silence.
"You might want to be sweating from the flames with your eyes stinging and throat burning.
"You might want your wife and children to be at home not knowing where you are or when you are coming home.
"Oh and make sure you pay your bills and retain your responsibility of running the country whilst you are doing what you 'want'."
She finished the open letter by urging Mr Morrison to "listen to the land owners and the RFS in regards to land management" rather than just sending his "thoughts and prayers" to those affected.
"Learn, prepare and act for next time! So next Christmas RFS members can be doing what they really 'want'."
The viral Facebook post attracted a huge wave of support from people impressed by how well written Mrs Attkins' letter was.
"So very well said. Scott Morrison stand up for the people of your country, for the people giving up their time, their businesses, their pay while volunteering. Be a man Scott Morrison and provide the means to fight these fires and keep families intact in all of this," Stephanie Pietsch commented.
"So very well said! Much gratitude for your husband's compassion and great work! And to you for your support and care of him! Thank you to all of our heroes," Robyn Parsons wrote.
"Well said and blessings to all our volunteers at this very harsh time of the year," Trevor Bennett said.
Mrs Attkins described it as an honour to be a part of a "great community group" doing all it can to support the families and properties under threat, the ecosystem around the area and the businesses affected by the recent bushfires.
But she said the situation was reaching the point where firefighters were struggling to respond to calls for help and feeling like they were letting down the community and their fellow RFS members because they need to go to work instead of fighting fires in order to pay their bills.
"At the end of the day you do all you can in every angle of life because being a part of such a great community means you care deeply for all elements and want to give your all," she said.
"It is just difficult to find a work, life, firefighting balance."