In rural and urban-fringe regions of Australia, bushfires are a major seasonal threat to life and property. Since European settlement, communities have progressively responded to this threat by establishing volunteer fire brigades. Australia, with its sparse population, is highly reliant on the commitment of an estimated 220,000 volunteer firefighters. Unfortunately, volunteer numbers have been declining steadily over the past two decades. As part of an effort to understand this decline, and hopefully to reverse it, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) engaged the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC) to survey communities in central and western NSW. The aim of the survey was to explore how well community members understood RFS and what factors affect their availability and willingness to volunteer with the service. This article reports some key findings from the survey about the level of interest in volunteering with RFS, factors that inhibit people from volunteering and initiatives fire agencies could take to make it easier to volunteer.