Benjamin Albers, 18, of Glenhaven, is the NSW SES Cadet of the Year.
Mr Albers is with The Hills SES and is completing his HSC at Cherrybrook Technology High School.
"Words can't express my feelings at being chosen; I was quite amazed when I was told," he said.
"I was picked for the award out of 700 other cadets."
He said the best things he gained from the SES were leadership training and learning
the importance of teamwork.
"I'm also in the Rural Fire Service; I've been there for about six years," Mr Albers said.
"It's been my dream and my passion ever since I could walk to help people."
He said the SES and the fire service were both challenging, and he wanted to continue with both.
"It's given me so many skills I can use in life, such as being able to carry out difficult tasks," he said.
"I love being able to go down a rock face; it's about working with your team, trusting your buddies."
Mr Albers said he got a taste of that fighting bushfires in the Blue Mountains last October.
"I was on a couple of night shifts and we managed to save some homes," he said.
"I can remember the fire coming up towards us; just hearing it and we were between it and some houses."
He said he felt some fear, but also felt he was part of something bigger and worthwhile.
"I came home feeling very tired, but that moment was the biggest thrill in my life."
He said he hoped to become a full-time firefighter.