Forest plantations should be rated "essential infrastructure" by firefighters, akin to power, roads and buildings, an industry chief thinks.
Lavington's Softwoods Working Group chair Peter Crowe told the NSW Bushfire Inquiry in a submission that a greater premium should be put on commercial tree lots.
"The SWG would urge the NSW Inquiry to recommend that, in any future response to bushfires, all firefighting activities must regard plantations as essential industry infrastructure," Mr Crowe wrote.
"The wood delivered from plantations supports industrial activity in the same way that 'traditional' infrastructure such as roads, bridges, buildings, and power are essential infrastructure."
Mr Crowe added that "while the protection of lives will always remain a first priority, it must be recognised that the protection of plantation areas, forest resources, catchments, and wildlife will maintain economic activity in the region which would otherwise be lost or seriously compromised for more than 30 years".
The SWG submission was among 800 presented to the inquiry that have now been made public.
Upper Murray Incorporated, a group fostering economic development, stressed the need for improvements in a response put by board members Jo Mackinnon, Ian Cesa, Ed Barry, Sarah Whitely, Jeff Sheather and Kay Whitehead.
They want every farm to be provided with a slip-on fire vehicle and UHF radio, if necessary, and suggests they could be funded by the Rural Fire Service's equipment and training budget.
The group also argues that ABC regional radio needs to service both sides of the river during emergencies "not just one or the other" as occurred via Goulburn Murray and Riverina stations.
The Border Mail has previously reported on contents of submissions put to the inquiry by Greater Hume Shire Council and Albury and Wodonga-based state politicians Justin Clancy and Bill Tilley.
The release of the inquiry report, overseen by former deputy NSW Police Commissioner Dave Owens and former NSW chief scientist and engineer Professor Mary O'Kane, is yet to be finalised.