A business case to build a sovereign Australian fleet of firefighting aircraft capable of extinguishing remote fires before they become disasters has been recommended by a Senate inquiry into the summer’s bushfires.

Fast attack strategies against particularly remote lightning fires that later became disasters could have been put out shortly after ignition with a strong force of specialized helicopters, bombers, and remote area fire crews, Independent Bushfire Group member and former incident controller Geoff Luscombe said.

These crews would be dedicated to extinguishing remote fires, he said.

“Supported by the best lightning strike detection technologies, these teams could act quickly while there were only one or two trees alight,” Mr Luscombe said.

“Changes in decision-making and investment in specialized firefighting can ensure more lightning fires are put out early, thus reducing costs and impacts on communities and bushland.

“It is clear that we are in unchartered territory for future fire seasons, and we need radical changes in the way we understand and fight fires in the era of climate change.”

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