Volunteer firefighters who bravely worked to contain the summer's deadly bushfires across Australia may be "heroes", but they also want to be recognised as so much more.
They want respect for being the same professionals as their paid colleagues.
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria chief executive Adam Barnett said firefighters were grateful for the praise they received from the public.
"They are absolutely brave, yes, they are absolutely courageous, but the commitment and the professionalism of what they have given up to do it safely and professionally is often missed," he told the National Natural Disaster Arrangements Royal Commission on Friday.
Volunteer organisations gave evidence at the hearing about the commitment made by firefighters this summer at locations that included the Upper Murray and Alpine areas.
NSW Rural Fire Service Association president Brian McDonough said some members had worked for two days straight during the emergency because they felt they could not leave their post or the situation would get out of control.
MORE NEWS FROM THE ROYAL COMMISSION:
- Cross-border firies have no way to talk 'bar getting out and waving'
- Emergency warning system will change, but commissioner says 'hurry up'
- One cross-border solution should be in place by next fire season
- Injured firefighter's burns care left to volunteers due to ambulance delays
- Emotional and economic pain of fires not helped by cross-border issues
"I know there were many cases during this last season, I know a couple of individuals in my area who did 48-hour shifts, and that's just totally unacceptable," he said.
"It does have a long-term effect in many cases.
"Our organisations have to implement systems to provide information to fire control centres."
Mr McDonough suggested an alert system be implemented, where those in charge were notified when a volunteer had been working for 12 hours and needed to go home.
But what volunteer firefighters do not want, was to be paid.
"The overwhelming majority is very uncomfortable around payment for their volunteering service," Mr Barnett said.
But he said they also should not be out of pocket because of their service.
VFBV is pushing for the Victorian government to introduce the same rules as NSW, where volunteers are protected from discrimination in their employment because they need to leave during an emergency.
Mr Barnett said self-employed people were the "unsung heroes" of the summer because they chose to leave their business to fight fires.