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NSW Bushfire History

Well it’s a smokey morning in Sydney, thousands of firefighters are still working hard and about a hundred fires are still burning with many out of control. I’ve been following the news here in Italy.

If indeed hundreds of homes have been lost, this could very well be the most damaging fires in the state’s history and I would expect there to be strong pressure for the Government to establish some sort of inquiry. So I’ve pulled together some information on past fires in NSW and some of the inquiries that they triggered. The data is taken from the COAG Bushfire Inquiry, a few RFS publications, the Insurance Council’s disaster statistics and my own lists of disaster inquiries.

In terms of property loss and insured loss the worst bushfire disaster in the State’s history was the 1993-94 fires that destroyed 206 homes. These fires killed four people and led to three separate inquiries. Since then there have been ten separate audits, inquiries and reviews into bushfires in NSW. There’s also been numerous federal inquiries and in other jurisdictions which have driven policy change in NSW. The most deadly bushfire in NSW’s history was the 1968-69 fires which killed 14 people and also destroyed 161 homes. I hope all the lessons we’ve learned through these fires and inquiries will not lead to a toll that high.

And the Australian fire season still has a long way to go. Click here to look at the full table as a google spreadsheet.

Other Bushfire related inquiries

1996 – Audit of New South Wales Fire Brigades : fire prevention

1998 – Audit of The Coordination of Bushfire Fighting Activities

2000 – Parliamentary Inquiry into the NSW Rural Fire Service

2001 – Follow up of Performance Audits: Coordination of bushfire fighting activities

2003 – Coronial Inquiry into the Circumstances of the Fire(s) in the Brindabella Range in January 2003

2004 – Parliamentary Inquiry into Fire Services Funding

2005 – Statutory Review of the Rural Fires Act 1997

2009 – Review of Bushfire Arson Laws

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