FIGHTING fires is all 18-year-old Silverdale woman Beth Dalton has ever wanted to do.
Three years ago she joined the Silverdale Rural Fire Service and now she has won a $10,000 Rural Fire Service Association scholarship.
It all started when the bushfires of 2001 sparked her interest.
"We had a fire threatening our whole town but the firefighters saved it," Miss Dalton said.
"They were my idols; they weren't getting paid, they did it out of love for the community.
"I fell in love with them and wanted to join."
When Beth was 10 she contacted her local firefighters and asked if she could be a member.
"They said to wait a few years," Miss Dalton said.
She did — and signed on with the Silverdale brigade at 15 — but had to wait another year to begin training because frontline firefighters must be at least 16 years old.
"The training is not difficult but is challenging," Miss Dalton said. "It's also been a delicate balance; studying for my HSC and training for the RFS."
For her scholarship she chose emergency management at Charles Sturt University because her degree has to benefit the fire service.
"It's at Bathurst so I have to study online, but that suits me perfectly," she said.
"I'm focused on engaging the community on fire safety, the part I love the most."
She said fire-fighting gave people the chance to help the community and enjoy some action.
But she cautioned anyone who only thought about the excitement of fighting fires.
"If you're not scared of fire you shouldn't be here," she said.