Bushfire communities say NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry recommendations could stop future blazes

SURVIVOR: Glen Innes Mayor Carol Sparks said the community will face future
SURVIVOR: Glen Innes Mayor Carol Sparks said the community will face future "unprecedented" fires. But she said she hopes a NSW inquiry will ask the state government to stop climate change she says is causing them. Photo: Andrew Messenger

Bushfire-battered communities across the New England hope the state government's inquiry into the Black Summer blazes will arm them with the tools to fight off the next "unprecedented" fires.

Some 329 days after the first fire ruined homes outside Tenterfield in September, the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry is set to release its findings as early as Friday.

RFS Captain Matthew Wharton was one of the heroes of the Black Summer bushfire.

He led Reddestone RFS Brigade across a burning bridge to help defend the tiny, isolated community of Wytaliba from one of the worst blazes the region has ever seen.

He said government could help the future fire-fighting effort by stronger RFS recruitment.

Towards the end of the season that started in July and formally ended in March, people were totally worn out, he said.

"The hardest part I found all the way through it was having enough bums on seats in the trucks.

"In saying that I think on that day down in Wytaliba, I couldn't say for certainty, but I'm fairly sure that pretty well every truck was out on the ground that day, either at Wytaliba or on the way there, or at Torrington."

Announced in January the inquiry has wide terms of reference and the power to investigate the causes of, and response to, the Black Summer bushfires.

In March it held public hearings in Tenterfield and Glen Innes.

Glen Innes Severn councillor and RFS veteran Jeff Smith was among many who told the inquiry government should allow cattle back into the national parks where some of the worst blazes began.

With better management of fuel load and more accessible fire trails it probably would have reduced damage and fatalities by 60 to 70 per cent, he said.

"As a community we're getting it wrong; the RFS doesn't own any land," he said.

"The people who own the land, that are land managers - being state and private - they're the ones responsible for the fires.

"Whoever owns the land owns the fuel, who owns the fuel owns the fire."

But Glen Innes Mayor Carol Sparks had a different message: the unprecedented fires were caused by climate change, she said.

"We are going to be fighting for our lives again in the future, so we just need to be prepared as much as we can be."