UNPAID NSW Rural Fire Service bills have caused family businesses in Walcha to dip into their personal accounts to stay afloat.
Marchant Bros co-owner Jason Marchant has worked with the NSW Rural Fire Service on-and-off for a decade and claims he is owed "a couple of hundred thousand dollars".
He's not the only one.
"It's never been too much of a drama before, but this time it's been really hard to get any money," he said.
"I suppose the fires have been widespread, but does it take four months? There must be more people in accounts than that.
Mr Marchant said the NSW RFS has claimed it will make repayments 'in the next fortnight' for the last three or four months.
"It would be nice if they did," he said.
A former Incident Management Team firefighter, who wanted to remain anonymous, blames the centralisation of fire control centres for the administration backlog.
"It doesn't seem like rocket science, but someone needs to be on site to supervise then get the information back to the administration centres," he said.
"The people supervising the heavy plant may never set foot in the control centre because it is hundreds of kilometres away."
BUSINESS owners in Walcha are reportedly up to $1 million out-of-pocket for contract work done for the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Bulldozers and heavy plant machinery central to firefighting efforts were contracted to the state-owned organisation in what's being called an "unprecedented" bushfire season.
Five months on, business owners in Walcha are still waiting to be paid while NSW RFS bills stack up.
The invoice payment process needs to be streamlined so family-owned businesses aren't left in the lurch, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said.
"The Government needs to get better at looking at when demands are unprecedented, making sure there are no road blocks to prevent those services when the RFS says, 'We need you'," he said.
"These are mum and dad businesses providing a service to their community.
"I have been dealing with these businesses personally since before Christmas, as soon as I became aware invoices were not being paid I immediately contact the Minister's office and requested those invoices be sent directly to him."
Former fire and emergency service chiefs warned federal and state governments in April last year that the country was unprepared for the horror bushfire season to come.
Up to 23 signatories called on both sides of leadership to acknowledge the need for national firefighting assets and large aircraft to tackle worsening conditions.
The heavy machinery contracted in Walcha to help fight fires were used to establish containment lines in the Nowendoc and Nundle areas.
Walcha Timber transport business owner Brian Smith claims he was owed almost half-a-million dollars, of which $315,000 had been paid out.
In one of the longest bushfire seasons the NSW RFS has seen, the work being undertaken by contractors has increased considerably.
In turn it's increased the burden on administrative tasks, a NSW RFS spokesman said.
"We apologise for any delays while we undertake this process and ask for patience while additional personnel have been put on to assist dealing with the backlog," he said.
"A significant volume of payments is expected to be made in the next fortnight."