Report warns of increasingly dangerous bushfire seasons

Danger: NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers mop up after a large fire at Kurnell in September. Picture: John Veage
Danger: NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers mop up after a large fire at Kurnell in September. Picture: John Veage

Firefighter numbers will need to double by 2030 to respond to increasingly dangerous bushfire seasons, according to a report released today.

The Climate Council report The ‘Earlier, More Frequent, More Dangerous: Bushfires in New South Wales’, report shows climate change had lead to a record breaking heat in winter and early spring this year.

Climate Councillor, Professor Lesley Hughes, said the conditions had already led to the early start to the official bush fire danger season.

“New South Wales has already experienced many bushfires this season,’’ she said.

“The bushfire threat has also been exacerbated thanks to unprecedented temperatures in September, with parts of the state reaching more than 40 degrees for the first time on record,” she said.

The Sutherland Shire has already felt the brunt of hot weather with large fires breaking out at Kurnell and in the Royal National Park.

Professor Hughes said the state will continue to experience an increasing number of days with dangerous fire weather, placing fire services and medical professionals under increasing pressure.

“Communities, emergency services and the health sector needs to be prepared and resourced for worsening fire danger conditions now and into the future. By 2030 firefighter numbers will need to at least double,’’ she said.

“This spring and summer bushfire conditions are ‘above normal’ so preparation will be critical.”

Other report findings include:

  • Bushfire costs in New South Wales are likely to more than double by mid-century to over $100 million per year.
  • ‘Above normal’ fire potential is expected for much of the eastern New South Wales in the 2017-18 bushfire season.
  • Bushfires have a major negative impact on public health, the economy and the environment in New South Wales

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