LEADERS at the forefront of a campaign to improve bushfire management and address the impact of climate change have pleaded for "urgent action" in their final report.
The Emergency Leaders for Climate Action group, comprising 33 former fire and emergency services chiefs, will release their Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan today.
Many people supporting the need for action experienced the devastation firsthand during this summer's bushfires that tore through NSW.
Tumblong Rural Fire Service Brigade captain Chris McDonnell spent weeks in January fighting the Dunns Road bushfire, which came within a kilometre of his own property.
"It was unbelievable, the ferocity of the fire, the heat, the wind," he said.
"On one of the really bad days in early January we battled a 4000-hectare fire that, by the end of the day, had grown to 40,000 hectares."
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The bushfire burnt through a total of 333,940 hectares of land over more than 50 days, destroying 182 homes, countless other structures, farms and forestry plantations, as well as costing multiple lives.
Mr McDonnell's family eventually evacuated Tumblong, but their stress remained.
"The hardest thing for my wife and kids was the fact I was away most days and nights with no reception, so they had no idea where I was or what was going on, it was terrifying for them," he said.
The plan has put forth 165 recommendations for immediate and future changes, including the addition of self-sufficient aerial firefighting capabilities, and developing a national platform based around planning, modelling and communications with authorities and the community.
One of the most vital recommendations was the push for a more comprehensive aerial unit, according to Mr McDonnell.
"There were a couple of times where the fire front could have been put out in certain places had the planes kept working for another half an hour in the places we couldn't get to on the ground," he said.
Former NSW fire chief Greg Mullins has been at the forefront of the plan and said Australia's approach to bushfire management needed a complete overhaul in the face of climate change.
"While it will be expensive to implement all 165 of these recommendations, there is a way to support them," he said.
"It's been known for decades that greenhouse gases warm the planet which we are now seeing the impact of, so we are saying their should be a levy on industries producing fossil fuels which can go towards a disaster fund and hopefully encourage a switch to renewable alternatives."