The NSW Rural Fire Service has deployed firefighters to assist their Canadian counterparts battle hundreds of devastating wildfires in British Columbia, and one of the region’s volunteers has answered the call.
The NSW RFS received a request to deploy a number of Remote Area/Arduous qualified firefighters to help battle the fires that have forced 40,000 people to evacuate their homes.
This is in addition to the some 80 Incident Management Personnel already dispatched.
Firefighter Charlie – a volunteer from Olinda Brigade - will form part of a 40 strong contingent from the NSW RFS that departed Sydney on Wednesday morning.
He will be deployed for 42 days in some very trying and testing conditions.
Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant today thanked the NSW volunteers for providing much needed support for firefighters in Canada, who have been battling blazes for a number of weeks.
“NSW always stands ready to lend our friends overseas a helping hand in their time of need,” he said.
“Not only will this deployment give firefighters in Canada who have been working tirelessly to protect life and property some respite, it will also provide our own personnel with invaluable experience working in foreign conditions.
“Sadly, our State knows all too well the destruction that bush fires can cause and we are more than willing to share our firefighting experience and expertise whenever and wherever necessary.
“To the firefighters departing, on behalf of the people of NSW, I wish you well. Stay safe and know that we are all very proud and grateful for the selfless work you do.”
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the firefighters will fill incident management and specialist positions, including incident control, operations, public information, logistics, aviation and fire behaviour analysis.
“NSW fire agencies have a longstanding tradition of helping out our fellow firefighters, no matter where they are, and we are pleased to be offering this support to the Canadian Fire Services.” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
This time two years ago Mudgee National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) ranger, Michael Sharp, was part of a 102-strong deployment of Australian wildfire experts in Canada, where he was divisional supervisor.
He worked alongside firefighters from Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.