The Glen Innes bushfire tent city is here to stay, with RFS brass telling locals to brace for a long hot summer, and likely further fire threats to life and property.
Opened in September and with an initial expected closing date of mid-October, up to 180 firefighters are expected to remain camped out at Glen Innes' Mead Park for weeks, according to incident controller Superintendent Mark Williams.
"It is a hot summer that we're coming into," he said.
"It's obviously exacerbated by the drought conditions that we've got and what we're seeing is - I hate using the word - but unprecedented fire conditions and number of fires that we've had on the landscape.
"A lot of fire grounds have seen extraordinary fire behaviour and we're really mindful of that."
There are still 14 fires ablaze in the area, with 5000 bush and grassfires across the state wrecking half a million hectares of grassland and bush this season. That's double the annual loss, according to assistant commissioner Peter McKechnie - and there is another month until summer even starts.
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall toured the tent city on Friday after symbolically turning the first sod on an upgrade of what is normally the town's rugby league field.
"It is important that we give (RFS volunteers) a comfortable experience while they're here," he said.
"They're out on the fire ground 12 hours at a time fighting those fires, building containment lines.
"The least we can do is give them so good quality food and a nice place to rest their head of a night.
"And that's what's happening here and that's why we're seeing a lot of these volunteers coming back again and again - they go home for a while, go back to work for a few weeks and then come back because the conditions are actually something they enjoy, aside from being out fighting those fires."
The Glen Innes Salvation Army have cooked 27,264 meals in 516 shifts since getting onsite on September 20. It is the longest emergency catering service period provided by the church in NSW.
One of Glen Innes' great volunteers Jan Lemon has been coordinating the efforts. Enlistment was easy, with locals "walked in wanting to pay back firefighters for protecting the land."
Chef Steve Hortolanyi travelled from Katoomba to Glen Innes to work in shifts that begin at 4:30am and end at 10pm at night
"I'm 69 and a half, had two heart surgeries and am up here cooking for 300 people. If I can volunteer so can you!"