Volunteer Abbott in the hot seat

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Tony Abbott returns from his firefighting shift of backburning near Bilpin. Picture: Twitter/@TonyAbbottMHR

Tony Abbott swapped his white shirt and blue tie for fluoro overalls at the weekend to help his local fire brigade fight bushfires that have devastated parts of NSW.

After returning home from Adelaide on Saturday, the Prime Minister reported for duty at the Warringah Davidson Rural Fire Service Brigade in Sydney where he has volunteered for 13 years.

A specialist breathing apparatus operator, chainsaw operator and tanker driver, Mr Abbott spent 14 hours on the ground conducting back-burns around Bilpin from 6pm Saturday until 8am yesterday.

A spokesman for the PM said he had a couple of hours rest at home before returning to prime ministerial duties.

It is understood Mr Abbott intends being on RFS stand-by next weekend.

Mr Abbott was deputy captain of the Warringah Davidson brigade until be became Liberal leader in December 2009.

The PM has vowed to continue volunteering his services with the RFS, sparking debate on how those charged with ensuring his safety - the Australian Federal Police - can do so in potentially risky circumstances.

Mr Abbott's brigade captain Trent Dowling has said the PM would not be kept out of harm's way simply because of his day job.

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