The two volunteer firefighters who died in an accident southwest of Sydney have been hailed as heroes as their families prepare to celebrate Christmas without them.
Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O'Dwyer, 36, died when a tree fell into the path of their tanker, causing it to roll, as they were travelling in a convoy near the town of Buxton late on Thursday night.
The pair were in the front seat and the three other members of the crew travelling with them were taken to Liverpool Hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Both were remembered on Friday as committed family men and community members as their death prompted an outpouring of grief.
At the Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade headquarters, in western Sydney, where both volunteered, family and friends gathered to commemorate and celebrate their lives.
Throughout the day members of the NSW Fire Brigade, community members and dignitaries, including NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, trickled in to pay their respects.
A makeshift memorial outside captured the mood of the small and tight-knit community as wellwishers stopped to lay flowers and tributes.
"Not all heroes wear capes, sending our prayers, thoughts and strength," read one card.
"To our hero, thank you for your service. RIP," said another.
Helmets emblazoned with "Keaton" and "O'Dwyer" were laid out alongside the bouquets of flowers as members of the 70-strong Horsley Park RFS brigade consoled each other.
One of Mr O'Dwyer's colleagues at a local grocery store described him as: "Caring, out there, happy, just a good man."
One of Mr Keaton's friends described the feeling of reading headlines of two rural firefighters dying before seeing a familiar face in the pictures.
"Geoff smiled readily and easily," he said.
"His absence will be felt keenly by his friends, family, partner and son. His son will grow up knowing his father died a hero."
Mr Keaton joined the NSW RFS in 2006, was the deputy captain of the Horsley Park brigade and is survived by his partner Jess and son Harvey,
Mr O'Dwyer joined in 2003 and is survived by his partner Mel and daughter Charlotte.
Both of their children are 19 months old and were born two days apart.
As various privately run fundraisers were established on Friday, the RFS set up a dedicated bank account to raise funds for the two men's families.
All money deposited to the official RFS fundraiser will be distributed equally between the men's widows, who both endorse the fundraiser.
Details for the Westpac account are on the RFS website.
"They are at a loss," NSW RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said of their families.
"Christmas is five days away. They're in extraordinary shock and natural despair at the enormity of what's confronting them and to try and comprehend the tragedy."
Geoff's father John was working on the mega-blaze at Gospers Mountain northwest of Sydney while his son was at the Green Wattle Creek fire.
"They're ordinary, everyday individuals - like you and I - that go out and simply want to serve and protect and make a difference in their local community," Mr Fitzsimmons said.
"And they don't ever go out in the knowledge that they might not come home from that shift."
Australian Associated Press