The NSW Bushfire Inquiry made 76 recommendations to the state government for future fire mitigation and management, including the recommendation to align private and public fire fighting brigades.
There is extensive discussion throughout the recommendations about private and public agencies working closely together before, during and after fires.
Peter Crowe, Chairman of the Softwoods Working Group, said a greater partnership between the government and private forestry plantations would have great benefits.
“We welcome the recommendation to incorporate private forestry companies in as bushfire brigades,” he said.
“Companies like Hume Forests, for example, who have very significant resources of highly trained and skilled personnel and significant resources of light and heavy plant. Their inclusion into the brigade system would be most welcomed by SWG. We need to have groups such as Hume Forests accepted as one of the significant agencies to operate inside the current legislation.”
Mr Crowe said that by bringing private companies closer to the fire management system, the operational capacity of firefighting in the region would improve ‘right across the board.’
“It’ll help coordinate fire fight, fuel reduction, detection, response and suppression operations,” he said.
The SWG welcomed all the findings, saying they would assist with future protection for plantations and neighbours of the plantations, including nearby farmers and national parks.
“As everybody would be aware, our high catchments have been severely burnt over the last 20 years,” said Mr Crowe. “Anything we can do to protect those catchements – to mitigate damage from soil erosion, water pollution and damage to aquatic flora and fauna as well as the land based flora and fauna – will be most welcome.
“It’s basically time to have a fundamental rethink about how we go about all this and we’re pleased to see the RFS is taking some strong steps to deal with this matter.”