At his home on the outskirts of Sydney, former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner Greg Mullins says he's making plans to evacuate for good.
"We live in a beautiful part of the world surrounded by a bush reserve," Mr Mullins said. "But it's getting more perilous where we are living, at the top of steep sloping bushland."
After almost five decades managing Australian bushfire seasons and now approaching his mid-sixties, Mr Mullins' retirement plan, pre-pandemic, had been more time with the grandsons.
Since family time has become limited to Facetime, his focus has shifted to concern for the young boys' futures.
"I'm in the Rural Fire Service where I still do a lot of hazard reduction burning. Years ago I would have thought this property was defendable, but on the worst days, the sort of fire we get now, well, it's not," he said.
From fighting his first fire with his father as a 12-year-old boy, Mr Mullins has witnessed Australia's worsening bushfires first-hand.
You had trees just ripped out of the ground by the tornado, that had never happened in Canberra before.Greg Mullins
He said the Canberra fires of 2003 gained attention both nationally and internationally. The ACT recording one of the world's first fire tornados, destroying more than 480 homes and killing four people as it tore through the capital.
"You had the fastest rate of spread of a bushfire ever recorded up to that time, 20 kilometres per hour," he said.
"You had trees just ripped out of the ground by the tornado, that had never happened in Canberra before."
Since his retirement, Mr Mullins has formed a group of former fire and emergency service chiefs who've come together to warn about the upcoming fire seasons and the super-charged bushfire risks in Australia.
With the start of the ACT's bushfire season delayed until November 1, Mr Mullins has warned the federal government has taken its eye off the ball with implementing recommendations from the royal commission following the 2019-2020 bushfires.
Despite being told throughout his career to stay out of the climate change debate, Mr Mullins warns more frequent droughts, heatwaves and fires - compounded by the pandemic - put the nation in a precarious position.
"We'll get bushfires this summer," Mr Mullins said. "There'll be individual days where there'll be total fire bans and there will be fires, but it won't be like Black Summer, it's not going to be relentless for six months."
The immediate risk is fires burning at their peak in Queensland when the NSW fire season takes off, meaning volunteers from up north would be scarce, he said. That, coupled with the pressure the pandemic put on crossing borders, meant the response capacity would be compromised.
"We've already seen it internationally. We sent firefighters to Canada recently but when they worked through the issues of quarantine, it was just too hard," Mr Mullins said.
According to the former fire chief, the divided state of the nation, coupled with differing vaccine requirements, forces the question of whether help would be as forthcoming as it once was.
"Look it came up over vaccines, when NSW asked for extra and Victoria said 'no way'," Mr Mullins said. "The NSW health minister said 'hang on, whenever you have bushfires or floods we're the first to come and help you. We need help now'."
With Scott Morrison so far refusing to commit to a net zero target and seemingly shunning an invite to the Glasgow climate summit in November, Mr Mullins says a future in the bush is not a safe option.
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"You're getting stronger winds, lower humidity, much higher temperatures, and all of that put together means that a lot of places where people live that used to be thought of as fine are no longer fine," he said.
"So we need to take a long term view and say 'okay it's going to be really bad' and we need to look at building standards, firefighting aircraft, hazard-reduction burning, Indigenous traditional burning, recovery, planning and helping people get back on their feet.
"But the big ticket item is immediate action on emissions.
"We must urgently join the rest of the world in taking real action on emissions because that's what's driving it.
"I use the analogy of a pot of water boiling on the stove, you have to turn the heat off or take the pot away from the stove. You can't stop it boiling by putting a lid on it, you've got to turn off the heat source."
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