The firefighter battling Australian wildfires moved to tears by surprise Christmas presents from thankful locals

Firefighters battling the ferocious wildfires in Australia received a Christmas thank you from local residents after surprise gifts were delivered to a fire station.

Volunteer firefighter Andrew Johnston was moved to tears after seeing the presents delivered to the station in Balmoral, New South Wales.

He said he had not had time to buy gifts for his daughter, who turns one next month.

"Just overwhelming support, like obviously all presents and stuff for the kids and it's just what they need at the moment," Johnston said.

"We just tried so hard to save some people's homes and everything.

Residents thank volunteer firefighters for their role in tackling the fires. Credit: AP

"It's just awesome, the community spirit. Just always the spirit, all the way around."

About five million hectares (12.35 million acres) of land have burned nationwide, nine people have died and more than 950 homes have been destroyed since the fires started in September.

New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, has received the brunt of the damage, with around 850 homes destroyed.

The fires continue to rage and authorities warn they could burn for months, causing more angst for exhausted firefighters.

It comes as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday that volunteer firefighters from the public sector will receive extra paid leave for their work.

Authorities warn the fires could fester for months. Credit: AP

He said volunteers with state rural fire services would get 20 days of paid leave on top of their regular annual and sick leave.

"With bushfire seasons starting earlier, one of the things I've heard on the ground is that some people are dipping into their other leave entitlements to stay out there battling blazes," the prime minister said.

"Today's announcement is about ensuring our volunteer firefighters can keep focused on the job at hand."

However, Mr Morrison has come under immense criticism after he took a family vacation to Hawaii during the wildfire crisis.

He apologised and cut short the holiday, admitting if he had the "benefit of hindsight, we would have made different decisions."

The wildfires have been burning across Australia since September. Credit: AP

“I am sure Australians are fair-minded and understand that when you make a promise to your kids you try and keep it. But as prime minister, you have other responsibilities and I accept that and I accept the criticism," Morrison added.

Cooler temperatures on Tuesday in New South Wales provided temporary relief, but authorities warned that conditions could deteriorate this weekend due to warmer and windier weather.

Fire danger ratings remained very high in parts of southern New South Wales, and were between high and moderate for the rest of the state.