The coronavirus pandemic makes it challenging to bring in international firefighting aircraft and crews to help Australia in the coming bushfire season, a royal commission has been told.
Victorian and NSW emergency services agencies say COVID-19 restrictions will likely affect the provision of international aerial firefighting services.
Emergency Management Victoria deputy commissioner Chris Stephenson says the agency is looking at how the pandemic may impact international assistance next fire season and in particular in terms of aircraft.
"I think one of the real issues or constraints for the country at the moment is international assistance and what that might look like if required this bushfire season," Mr Stephenson told the natural disasters royal commission on Thursday.
"We're having some discussion especially around aviation and how that might look this year in relation to international assistance, but also our local approach."
Mr Stephenson said a lot of the aircraft resources were already contracted through multi-year contracts.
"We do have some other resources that we're going to the market for this year, and there's a combination between national resources and state resources."
Mr Stephenson said the challenge was more around the logistics of bringing aviation personnel and aircraft into the state.
He said EMV would heed the advice of the chief health officer.
"At the end of the day it will be a balance of risk between the health risks and the risk of and the significance of the potential bushfire season that we may see."
The NSW Rural Fire Service has also noted the pandemic would likely affect the provision of aerial firefighting services this coming fire season, as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements may affect the availability of international pilots and maintenance crews.
Emergency services chiefs and deputies from Tasmania and South Australia are also giving evidence at a Royal Commission into National Natural Disasters Arrangements hearing on Thursday.