Leo (Leonardus) Fransen, has been described by his Diamond Beach Rural Fire Brigade (RFS) colleagues as a hero across the community.
A life member of the local RFS, Captain Fransen was tragically killed after he was struck by a tree while helping to fight the Hudson bushfire near Lighting Ridge in the state's Far West yesterday, Thursday, November 16.
"We are just heartbroken, we are still in shock," a team-mate said.
"He was like the 'Energiser Bunny'; he always led from the front.
"He was larger than life."
In the past, an elite athlete, Leo remained strong and fit in his latter years.
Leo also was known throughout the area for his generosity and contribution to the community.
Earlier this afternoon, MidCoast Council extended its sympathies to Leo's family.
At the same time his colleagues, members of the community and friends have posted heartfelt messages on Facebook sites.
Mayor, Claire Pontin, extended her condolences to Leo's family.
"Our entire community is reeling from the sad news," Cr Pontin said.
"Leo's actions will never be forgotten having made the ultimate sacrifice to keep his community safe," she said.
"Our thoughts go out to Leo's family, his wife Margaret, children Julia and Paul, his extended family and friends and the RFS crews he stood with."
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