The ACT Emergency Services Agency say cross-border information systems needed improvement ahead of the bushfire season set to start next week, as the Bushfire Royal Comission call for jurisdictions to work more closely together.
The ACT will continue to rely on the NSW Rural Fire Service Fires Near Me app for the approaching season but ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said the systems would be better coordinated to avoid confusion brought on by cross-border blazes last year.
Commissioner Whelan echoed the findings of the Bushfire Royal Commission as she said there was "clearly" a need for a national approach to fire mapping and communication.
"Our staff have been working with NSW headquarters, so we've got strong and close working relationships to coordinate our water systems, our mapping systems and the information that we are providing," she said.
She said the ESA would use the Fires Near Me app and its own website, but the issue of cross-border maps would be better coordinated.
"We're very conscious at the moment that the maps end on the border," she said.
"We will work with NSW to put the maps side by side, on our websites and on our social media, so that we can reduce any likelihood of misunderstanding or miscommunication."
The Royal Commission findings, released on Friday, called for better sharing of resources within local government and for state and territory governments to review how they share resources in a natural disaster.
It also recommended jurisidictions share technology and create a national information platform.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the next government would consider the Royal Comission's recommendations.
"Any findings will be in addition to the improvements already implemented as part of the independent operational review and strategic whole of government review," he said.
He welcomed the the acknowledgement of the role climate change would play in worsening natural diasasters.
"The evidence is clear that urgent action is needed to both mitigate global warming and prepare for the changes that are already happening.
"The ACT will continue to lead national and international action on climate change.
Commissioner Whelan said improvements were being made to the fire warning and communication systems across the ACT and NSW with state officers joining the territory's team this season.
RFS acting Chief Officer Rohan Scott said the relationship with NSW would not change, but sharing resources with NSW RFS this season would be impacted by restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"So if there is a COVID outbreak or the restrictions increase, we've got ways to counteract any potential cross contamination, we'll still be able to provide full capability cross border," he said.
He said resources would be in higher demand as items couldn't be shared between firefighters or trucks, and brigades would be split into two or three teams.
"So if there is an outbreak of the brigade, we can sideline, a small percentage of that brigade ... which then gives us the ability to maintain a capability to go to any incidents," he said.
Canberrans warned of grassfires this bushfire season
With the bushfire season to start on Monday, a month later than usual due to cool and wet weather, Canberrans have been warned there would be a greater risk of grassfires in the ACT's urban areas.
"We know the risk will be quite different to what it has been in previous years," Commissioner Whelan said.
"Do not be alarmed. But please be alert."
Commissioner Whelan urged residents to update their bushfire survival plans.
"Have the conversation with your family about what you will do during a fire - including how you will stay informed, when you will leave, what you'll take," she said.
RFS Chief Officer Scott said grass fires were a high risk and could develop quickly in windy conditions.
"We won't have those really extreme days that we had last year, we had 26 total fire bans last year, which is the record for the ACT," he said.
"I'd like to say we won't have any Total Fire Bans issued. I can't say that but our chances of them will be dramatically reduced."