In an Australian first, a team of 100 specialist fire firefighters will be deployed to Canada this week to assist fighting wild fires burning across the country.
Rural Fire Service Mid Coast District Superintendent Kam Baker flew out to Canada early last week to help lead coordination efforts in fighting the substantial forest fires over there, accompanied by 50 other Australian fire-fighters.
Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said this latest contingent included members from the NSW RFS, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) and the ACT Rural Fire Service (ACTRFS). This deployment will join the team of 78 already in Canada.
“As in the past, our firefighters are ready to answer the call to help others, even if that means travelling across the globe,” Mr Grant said.
“The Canadians have asked for remote firefighters to battle fires currently threatening regional communities. The firefighters we are sending across in this placement are specialists. They are highly trained, fit and have experience dealing with arduous isolated conditions.
“This is recognition of the high regard in which our firefighters are held internationally and it is a testament to their training and professionalism.”
Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the arrangement between British Columbia and Australia to share firefighting resources had been in place for more than a decade.
“Our firefighters don’t just help protect lives, properties and homes but they show us their commitment and selflessness when they are willing to fly across the world to fight fires,” Ms Upton said.
“They are incredibly skilled and resilient in difficult times. I want to thank them for their commitment and I wish them a safe return.”
Acting Commissioner Rogers said the deployment of this large number of specialist firefighters follows a formal request from Canadian Authorities to the National Resource Sharing Centre.
“Crews in Canada are facing incredibly tough conditions. Hundreds of fires have been burning for weeks, with tens of thousands of people evacuated.
“This third deployment of specialist firefighters will join those Australian incident management and aviation personnel who have already been deployed to Canada.
“The experience our specialist firefighters get overseas will also help here, in the lead up to our fire season.”
The contingent of 100 personnel is made up of 40 representatives from the NSW RFS, 30 from NPWS, 25 from ACTRFS and five from FCNSW.
Forty firefighters left Wednesday morning with a remaining 60 to fly from Sydney to British Columbia Thursday morning, before being briefed and deployed across Canadian jurisdictions.