Hazard reduction measures can be done better to help prevent bushfires, but are enormously complex, the NSW Rural Fire Service has admitted.
RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers was among those to give evidence at Wednesday's Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements hearing, which had a focus on hazard reduction.
He acknowledged the practice had been questioned, but said NSW has 48 million hectares of bushfire-prone land so while it is difficult to treat it all, he said as many preventative burns were conducted as possible.
"In the last year sometimes hazard reductions worked really well, sometimes they didn't ... There's some significant work we need to do at looking at the quality of hazard reductions," he said.
"There's no point expecting something to be done if it's not capable of being done.
"What we're clearly looking at trying to do out of this last season is look at how we might do things differently to achieve a better result.
"The complexity of getting hazard reduction done are enormous."
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Many of the NSW fires had been started by lightning strikes in mountain areas.
"We have to look at those areas and work out how we treat those differently," Commissioner Rogers said.
"I don't think that from a NSW perspective we're saying that everything we do is great and there is nothing more to do here.
"I think there is more to do here and we have to learn lessons from this last season.
"We have to wait and understand results from inquiries that look at how we deal with those."
South Australia CFA preparedness operations director Brett Loughlin fires were burning in extreme conditions where half the state was listed at "catastrophic" warning levels.
"There are limitation in the success of hazard reduction and preparation activities as the fire danger index increases," he said.
He said the CFA would target more areas for hazard reduction if needed and give more information to residents on how to be better prepared.
Victoria's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning knowledge and planning director Hamish Webb told the hearing that the warnings of an "above average" fire season came in July, but it was too late to conduct any more fire reduction burns in tricky spring conditions.
Extra focus instead went into putting more firefighters and aircraft into danger areas and informing the public.
The Royal Commission this week published more than 1000 submissions from groups and individuals affected by the summer bushfires.
One was from Michael Campbell, a resident of Greater Hume in southern NSW, who after being forced to evacuate his home late at night in January due to the threat of bushfires, was not safe.
He was so tired he fell asleep on the road and crashed into a tree.
The crash left him with broken ribs and a cracked sternum, and he needed to spend six days in hospital to recover.
Mr Campbell described how police made it clear he had no choice but to leave when they knocked on his door at about 10:30pm on January 3.
He thought he would be fine to drive, but in reality had little sleep over the previous four nights because he "did not want to burn to death while sleeping".
It was 20 minutes into his trip to Albury that he fell asleep and crashed into a tree at between 80 and 100km/h.
"I believe that this was a direct result of my fatigue," Mr Campbell said.
"My situation could have been avoided had I been allowed to stay and defend my property."
When he was finally discharged from hospital, he returned to a house that was left with no power or working phone line because of the fires.
Hearings in the Royal Commission continue on Thursday.