A perilous mix of climate change, drought and high fuel loads on the ground caused last summer's unprecedented bushfire season in NSW and are likely to cause similar disasters in the future, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has admitted.
Landowners across NSW will be obliged to conduct more hazard-reduction burns on their properties and take an active role in bushfire preparation after the state government on Tuesday accepted all 76 recommendations of an independent inquiry.
A trial will also be conducted of first-response aerial firefighting, which involves water bombers being deployed ahead of firefighters to reduce the intensity of blazes.
Ms Berejiklian in January established the inquiry amid a NSW fire season in which 25 people died, almost 2500 homes were razed and 5.5 million hectares burned.
The inquiry leads, Professor Mary O'Kane and Dave Owens, handed the report to the NSW government in late July and it was published on Tuesday.
Ms Berejiklian's government has agreed to support all 76 recommendations from the inquiry, including an enhanced role for landowners in the firefighting process.
The report also recommends more hazard-reduction burns in closer proximity to endangered communities, and hazard-reduction burns and water bombing conducted at night.
Ms Berejiklian admitted climate change had played a major role in the summer's fires, with authorities seeing things "they have never seen before in decades of firefighting".
"There were unprecedented conditions coupled with the drought, the fuel loads in some areas, but moreover that the climate is changing and we have to accept and expect that part of the ferocity we saw was a combination of those things," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
"Our government is working as hard as we can, as fast, as efficiently as we can to resource up our agencies but also do everything we can to mitigate the risk."
Ms Berejiklian had in November said it was "inappropriate" to discuss the link between climate change and bushfires while blazes in NSW were raging.
Former NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner Greg Mullins, part of the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action ex-fire chief grouping, said on Tuesday the NSW government should heed the report's recommendations but also cut carbon emissions faster.
"As Australia enters a new era of climate-driven bushfires where fires are more likely to develop dangerous pyroconvection events (fire tornadoes), we have to address the root cause of worsening conditions," Mr Mullins said in a statement.
Amid other recommendations, NSW firefighting authorities will also trial military-style water-bombing tactics, buy more medium-sized water-bombing aircraft, update equipment and training and enhance mental health support for firefighters.
The report also encouraged the establishment of a "major world centre" of bushfire research in NSW and the creation of a bushfire-fighting technology fund.
The government has likewise been advised to commission research into the efficacy of cattle grazing on vegetation as a hazard-reduction technique and to enact policy for injured wildlife, including guidance for firefighters on handling animals.
Emergency Services Minister David Elliott told reporters the government had already tipped an additional $45 million into the state's firefighting response for the upcoming season, while the Rural Fire Service had purchased 120 new fire trucks.
He said he would enact further reforms ahead of this year's fire season if necessary.
"Aviation has come of age when it comes to firefighting," Mr Elliott said.
"What we have seen in NSW is that we've embraced it - when we talk about military tactics, that's all about making sure aviation assets can fly over a fireground quickly, early, with a maximum amount of retardant and water to drop."
The Public Service Association, which represents the RFS' professional staff, said the inquiry's findings should prompt the recruitment of 1000 additional permanent firefighting staff.