Australia Bushfire royal commission: Black Summer saw largest interstate, international volunteer firefighting effort

06:11  02 june  2020
06:11  02 june  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Black Summer fires burned three times more land in NSW than the previously worst fire season. (ABC News: James Carmody). According to data provided to the commission by Risk Frontiers, a risk management and catastrophe modelling company, the total area of bushland burned during the Black

a plane flying in the air with smoke coming out of it: The response included a number of aerial firebombing operations from Australian and international personnel. (Supplied: Coulson Aviation) © Provided by ABC NEWS The response included a number of aerial firebombing operations from Australian and international personnel. (Supplied: Coulson Aviation)

More than 7,000 people from across the country and the world were deployed to help during the summer bushfire crisis, making it the largest response ever mounted in Australia.

The commission, which is hearing about how Australia can better prepare for, and respond to, natural disasters, is today focusing on the aerial firefighting capabilities and resources.

This story will be regularly updated throughout Tuesday.

Pictures: Bushfire crisis 2019-2020

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Thick smoke from the East Gippsland bushfires still covers areas of the region on January 13, 2020 near Nicholson, Australia.  The death toll from Victorian bushfires has now risen to four, following the death of a firefighter on Saturday near Omeo. Fires in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have burned more than 10 million hectares of land in recent months. 21 people have been killed and thousands of homes and buildings have been destroyed.

Largest coordinated response mounted in Australia

First on the commission's witness list for today was the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC).

AFAC is the peak body for emergency services and helps coordinate firefighting resources, including aircraft, between jurisdictions and internationally with Canada and the United States.

A number of international personnel travelled to Australia to bolster resources during the bushfires, helping in frontline and organisational or logistical roles.

It found in its assessment of the 2019/20 bushfire season, given to the royal commission, that it was the largest sharing of resources during a fire event in Australia.

"The [season] saw by far the largest nationally coordinated interstate and international deployment of fire and emergency personnel ever to be mounted in Australia," it said.

"Over the course of the campaign, there have been over 7,000 international and interstate personnel deployed into ACT, Queensland, SA, NSW and Victoria."

AFAC said it believed there may be need for a strategic analysis between it and the states to decide whether there was a need to expanding aerial firefighting fleets or creating a reserve which could be dipped into during times of extreme emergency.

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