Border and North East firefighters appreciated the chance to catch up over a coffee in Wodonga on Saturday.
A simple idea last week aimed at thanking brigade volunteers grew into a morning get-together that included a free barbecue, jumping castle, face painting and unlimited coffees.
Wodonga business The Coffee Shed hosted the event on its Osburn Street site as part of an ongoing pay it forward campaign.
Rachel Little, who owns The Coffee Shed with husband Ken, said one day a firefighter came through, looking exhausted, and the business gave him a free coffee.
Regular customers wanted to join in and within four days about 350 coffees had been bought.
"People wanted to say thank-you and they don't know how, so we decided we'd put this on," Mrs Little said.
"People are still rocking up today to pay it forward."
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Wodonga West brigade member Michael McLinden, also Wodonga deputy group officer, described Saturday as "a social type of debrief".
"A lot of the guys are talking about their experiences and what they had to do and it just helps them to climb down, especially when you've had three or four bad days in a row and you're really tired and whatever," he said.
"It's an opportunity because a lot of the time we're rushing out the door with the families at home."
Baranduda first lieutenant Gary Reid said volunteers had been "flat out", for example he'd completed three tours of the NSW fires as well as the Upper Murray blazes.
Second lieutenant Matthew Martin, of Baranduda, noted the wild nature of this season's fires.
"You usually go in and see one fire tornado and everyone goes 'Oh, yeah', but after the 15th, 16th fire tornado that comes out, we're like 'Wow, this is different, this year's different'," he said.
Mr McLinden said with the fire season only half over, most volunteers took things one day at a time.
Incidents like last week's fires near Wodonga also complicated the situation.
"Sometimes the crews have just come back from a night shift somewhere else and the pager goes off ... you still got to go," he said.
"I'm sure we'll have one hell of a party at the end of the fire season."
Baranduda, Wodonga West, Leneva, Bonegilla and Splitters Creek were among the brigades represented at Saturday's get-together.