FIREFIGHTERS on the ground during the Dunns Road Bushfire have expressed concerns over the focus on manpower following an independent inquiry into last summer's disaster.
The inquiry outlined 76 recommendations under the Berejiklian Government, many of which prioritised training, communications and staffing.
Yet, Riverina firefighters have said the solution needs to lay with better, more accessible equipment.
Riverina Zone RFS group captain Alan Brown said while he was grateful for the recognition of practices needing to change, the focus was not entirely well-placed.
"The overwhelming message I, and many of us, have seen from volunteers in that we need better equipment," he said.
"The problem with the Dunns Road fire was that we were routinely putting our firefighters in very high risk situations on relatively old machinery, and we know that newer trucks are so far ahead of the capabilities of the older ones. It's chalk and cheese."
Mr Brown said the extra manpower would likely follow on naturally if resources were improved.
"If you have first rate equipment, you can find people to man it," he said.
"But also, a relatively small number of volunteers can do a lot more work with first grade equipment like electric reels, monitors and other state of the art equipment.
"It's so much more efficient, and it really is stunning how much progress has been made in designing this new equipment fit for purpose."
In the Riverina Zone alone, Mr Brown said eight trucks were removed from their operation.
"We obviously did have a lot of equipment for us at the Dunns Road fire, but with those eight trucks gone, it meant we were really in strife in something else big went on in the Riverina and we couldn't refocus what resources we had," he said.
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Fellow firefighter Callum Murdoch, Senior Deputy Captain of Currawarna RFS, also supported a push for better resources.
"I think we've all been hoping for new trucks, we have so many old ones in our zone that are coming up to 25 years old now and they need replacing," he said.
"It would be great to see more protective equipment for us, sprinklers for the trucks and fire curtains, that sort of thing."
The NSW government announced on Thursday that it will spend $192 million on aspects like night-time aerial firefighting and better mental health support, as well as upgrades to equipment.
Mr Murdoch said factors such as mental health were welcomed, but also hoped to see more interest in the physical wellbeing of volunteers.
"They need to be getting us checked over for respiratory issues, because a lot of us dealt with a lot of smoke and have never been checked since," he said.
"They say it might happen, but it never does."
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.
Other funding promises following the inquiry included:
- $36 million for new first responder mental health strategy
- $2.5 million for updates to Fires Near Me app
- $23 million for PPE for frontline firefighters
- $17 million for upgrades to firefighting trucks and vehicles
- $8.3 million for extension of an integrated dispatch system for the NSW RFS
- $9.5 million for improvements to the fire trail network
- $5.4 million in enhancements to the RFS aerial fleet and training facilities
- $2.85 million to deliver critical equipment for Emergency Operations Centres