NSW to spend $192m fighting off bushfires

NSW has set aside $192 million to better prepare the state after the Black Summer bushfires.
NSW has set aside $192 million to better prepare the state after the Black Summer bushfires.

The NSW government will spend $192 million on night-time aerial firefighting, new equipment and better mental health supports for emergency services as part of its response to the state's bushfire inquiry.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian established the inquiry in January in the midst of a catastrophic and unprecedented bushfire season in which 25 people died, almost 2500 homes were razed, more than 5.5 million hectares were burned and billions of animals perished.

The independent inquiry handed down 76 recommendations in July, and all were accepted by the government in August.

The $192 million, announced on Thursday, will be spent across five years in the hope NSW can avoid a repeat of last summer's horror bushfire season.

"Last season's bushfires had a devastating effect on the whole of NSW and this funding will go a long way in ensuring we never see the same impact again," NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.

The funds include:

* $36 million for a new first responder mental health strategy;

* $2.5 million for updates to the Fires Near Me app;

* $23 million for PPE for frontline firefighters;

* and $17 million for upgrades to firefighting trucks.

The state's aerial firefighting fleet and training facilities will also receive a $5.4 million boost, and $9.5 million will be spent on improving the fire trail network.

The inquiry recommended landowners across NSW be obliged to conduct more hazard-reduction burns on their properties and that more hazard-reduction burns be conducted in closer proximity to endangered communities.

The NSW government was also advised to buy more medium-sized water-bombing aircraft, update equipment, training and mental health support for firefighters, and trial military-style water-bombing tactics.

The performance of hazard-reduction burns and water bombing should occur at night, and Indigenous cultural burning techniques should also be examined in greater detail, the inquiry recommended.

More measures to address the inquiry's recommendations will be considered in future budgets, the treasurer said.

However, Labor's shadow emergency services minister Trish Doyle said the announcement was a "slap in the face" for frontline firefighters.

Ms Doyle said the funding announcement would not provide upgrades to enough trucks and that mental health support had been needed since the last bushfire season.

"The fact that they had this money and chose not to invest until months and months down the track is disgusting," Ms Doyle said in a statement on Thursday.

Australian Associated Press