EFFORTS to fight Tasmania's January bushfires were hampered by confusion about who was in charge, failure to deliver timely warnings to communities in the line of danger and inadequate fuel reduction burns, a scathing report has found.
The Tasmanian Bushfires Inquiry yesterday handed down its final report, making 103 recommendations to address serious flaws in the response to the fires that swept through Forcett, Bicheno and Lake Repulse.
The inquiry, headed by former South Australian police commissioner Malcolm Hyde, highlighted uncertainty about the command structure made worse by communication issues.
The report revealed the Tasmania Fire Service had modelling accurately predicting the fire front would hit Dunalley the night before, but waited to warn the community until shortly before the fire wiped out the town.
``There should have been greater urgency and more proactive creativity in the process of delivering warnings to potentially affected areas, such as Dunalley,'' the report states.
Other key recommendations include:
thThe role of the State Controller should be more clearly defined to avoid confusion about who is in charge.
thA statewide evacuation policy is needed.
thThere was no suitable state-level recovery plan.
While the state government has accepted all recommendations, the Tasmania Fire Service yesterday angrily defended its response and disputed the inquiry's findings.
Premier Lara Giddings has announced $1.5 million will be allocated to start work on the report's recommendations, but the cost to fully implement all of them is unclear.
Ms Giddings acknowledged there were weaknesses in the response, but defended the emergency services efforts.
``The reality is January 4 was a catastrophic day . . . nothing would have stopped that fire,'' Ms Giddings said.
More than 400 properties were burnt in the three major fires.
``We must remember that not one life was lost in the fires and they were fires arguably worse than the 1967 fires.''