Canberra's community will stop on Friday to remember the day 10 years ago when a firestorm bore down on the national capital.

The fire on January 18, 2003, killed four people and destroyed more than 500 homes on Canberra's western edge.

A decade on, most of the houses are rebuilt and emergency services have been overhauled.

But as fires rage across NSW, Canberra residents continue to be reminded of the possibility of danger that comes with living in the bush capital.

The Emergency Services Agency (ESA) warned the fire danger during last week's heatwave was as bad as that Saturday 10 years ago.

Fire conditions are expected to worsen again on Friday, with the worst weather predicted to hit southern NSW where large fires continue to burn in Yass and Cooma, close to the ACT.

But these days, the territory is more prepared for whatever nature might bring.

"There is no doubt in my mind that as a community, as a city, as a government, we are better prepared to deal with the ever-present threat of bushfires," Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell told AAP.

Getting more information out to the community and a clear policy for responding to fires are key parts of the strategy.

A unified Emergency Services Agency, established in mid-2006, now co-ordinates the resources of ACT Fire & Rescue, Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service as well as ambulance and support services.

Coroner Maria Doogan, who conducted the inquest into the disaster, found that poor planning by senior ACT fire chiefs and their unwillingness to fight small bushfires aggressively contributed to the fatal firestorm.

Now, Corbell says, any fire is immediately and aggressively attacked with all resources necessary.

"We don't let fires burn. We don't assume that it's going to be all right," he told AAP.

"We get on top of them quickly and we hit them with everything we've got."

As well, thousands of hectares are grazed, mown, slashed or burned in the territory each year to reduce hazards.

Corbell says the strategy was proven last week when fire crews put out three blazes in Namadgi National Park before the dangerous fire conditions arrived on January 8.

ACT RFS chief officer Andrew Stark said crews were "buoyant" at the success.

"After this history of 2003, to be able to contain three separate fires, one of which was eight separate lightning strikes on the Brindabella ranges, in those conditions, makes them very proud," he said at the end of last week.

"It doesn't take away the fatigue. But they feel very proud, both paid and volunteer, of their training and their expertise to be able to bring those fires under control under those conditions."

Stark said he understood many in the community saw last week's dangerous fire conditions, eerily similar to those of 2003, as a test of lessons learnt.

"It's really how you perform next time round that the community judges," he said.

"There's been massive investment by the government and fire services.

"But on some days, when the weather goes beyond into areas where we can't put fire crews because of the strength of the wind or the heat, you know, big fires will still happen."

The Australian National University also learned lessons from the devastations of the Mount Stromlo Observatory in the Canberra fire, ANU's acting director of facilities and services Wayne Ford said.

The work paid off when the Siding Spring Observatory in NSW was threatened by fire last weekend, and while accommodation for its scientists was destroyed, the observatory was saved.

A concerted effort had been made to improve fire trails near Siding Spring and to clear surrounding bush to protect it in the event of a bushfire.

Apart from his portfolio responsibilities for emergency services, Corbell has a personal connection to the 2003 bushfire disaster.

He lived at the time in Holder, one of the suburbs where houses were destroyed, and still lives in the Weston Creek region.

He was out fighting fires as a volunteer with his ACT RFS Rivers Brigade in the 10 days leading up to the disaster.

On Friday he'll join other firefighters at a special commemoration service for ESA personnel, before attending the public ceremony.

"Many people have very much responded to the confronting nature of the circumstances they faced ... in 2003," he said.

"But for others, the impact and the harm caused is still very real and very raw in their emotions.

"For the community overall I think we've seen extraordinary resilience and capacity to grow from what was a very devastating impact on our city."

Former world champion marathon runner Robert De Castella was one of those who lost a home in 2003.

"I think it is important to occasionally to let those emotions come to the surface," he told ABC TV this week.

"Even though a decade is a hell of a long time, I think there's still a lot of pretty raw emotions not that far below the surface."

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher in December acknowledged not everyone would want to look back.

"Commemorations of the events of January 18 are often difficult for those who lost loved ones or lost their homes, possessions and their pets that day," Ms Gallagher said.

"I hope that the sense of community that is often felt each time we mark the anniversary provides some strength and comfort to those affected."

She returns from holidays on Friday to take part in the public commemoration ceremony.

Members of the community, churches and emergency services will share their experiences at the event, to be held at 10am AEDT at the ACT Bushfire Memorial on the corner of Uriarra and Cotter Roads in Weston.