The first Indigenous female firefighting crew in South Australia

Australia’s ABCNews produced a radio program about the first Indigenous female firefighting crew in South Australia. You can listen to it HERE; below is an excerpt from the transcript.

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“MARK COLVIN: A group of women in a remote Aboriginal community in South Australia’s APY Lands have formed the state’s first Indigenous female fire-fighting team.

For cultural reasons women in Mimili can’t join the Country Fire Service unit in the town.

But with the men often out of community on cultural business and other help so far away the women decided to train up so they could protect themselves and their land.

One of the new fire-fighters says she hopes other Indigenous women follow their lead.

Natalie Whiting reports.

NATALIE WHITING: About five hours from Uluru in the top corner of South Australia is Mimili.

A group of women there have been spending today putting out fires.

TANIA POMPEY: We’re going out just doing some patch-burning and I think we’re doing burning a car, that’s one of our old wrecks in our rubbish dump here, just keeping up our training skills that we learnt.

NATALIE WHITING: Tania Pompey is one Mimili’s new fire-fighters.

She and eight other women have undergone training with the Country Fire Service.

TANIA POMPEY: We’ve got a male CFS team and so I was just seeing how they do their training and I thought oh well, if the men go away or anything like that for a bit of trips and things, I just decided we can’t go after them, us women have to stick up for ourselves and just look after the family.

NATALIE WHITING: Absolutely, and I guess with cultural business, men’s business, there are times when most of the men aren’t in communities, is that the case?

TANIA POMPEY: Yes, and I saw how well the men team were working together, and I went to one of the training courses and I just though oh well, let’s do it.

NATALIE WHITING: Now, I understand that you guys are actually going to be the first Indigenous female fire-fighting team.

How did you feel when you heard that?

TANIA POMPEY: Totally, totally overwhelmed.

We didn’t, we just thought oh, just a bunch of ladies doing it and then one of my friends said “we haven’t heard anything like this from other people before”, and so we felt really privileged…”

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102 Australian fire personnel assisting with wildfires in Canada

Aussie firefighters in Canada

Australian fire personnel gather at the airport before departing to assist Canada with their wildfires.

Country Fire Authority members in Australia were among 42 Victorian emergency management personnel who left recently for Canada to help fight the worsening wildfires in British Columbia and Alberta.

They’re part of a 102-strong Australian contingent organized by State Control Centre – Emergency Management Victoria who will spend the next 6 weeks filling specialist leader roles in operations, planning, air attack and incident control.

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Tasmania fire requires evacuations

map fire George Town, Tasmania

The red dots represent heat produced by a fire in northern Tasmania east of George Town, March 4, 2015.

A 1,700-acre wildfire in northern Tasmania, an island state south of the Australian mainland, forced dozens of residents to evacuate Wednesday afternoon, local time. The fire started Tuesday afternoon during strong winds and was still burning actively on Wednesday, prompting firefighters to call for Bomber 390 (aka Tanker 131), the C-130H air tanker that has been stationed across the Bass Strait at Avalon, Victoria during the down under summer. This map shows the approximate location of the drop made by the air tanker east of George Town, Tasmania.

Authorities said on Wednesday the fire was expected to flare up again on Thursday, when winds are expected to pick up.

‘This fire will be difficult to control,’ the Tasmania Fire Service said in a statement. ‘Burning embers, falling on the township of Lefroy will threaten (homes) before the main fire.’

flight path of Tanker 131

The flight path of Tanker 131 to and from a fire in Tasmania. Down under it is known as Bomber 390.

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NSW sends 150 firefighters to assist in Western Australia

Firefighters at Sydney airport

This photo was posted at about 3 p.m. MST, February 2 (U.S. time) on the Facebook page for Shane Fitzsimmons, the Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service in Australia. The firefighters from New South Wales are flying to Western Australia for five days to help with the large fires currently burning there. The latest report is that  80,500 hectares (197,000 acres) have been burnt in the blaze near Northcliffe.

Here is how the above photo was described:

Nice to catch up with our interstate fire fighting assistance team at Sydney Airport this morning, flying out to assist their colleagues in WA. 150 fire fighters and management specialists will be in WA for next 5 days and returning home Friday. The team incorporates members from NSW RFS, FR, NPWS, Forestry and Ambulance and are partnered with their ACT colleagues. Thanks again to all involved.

A day earlier, Commissiner Fitzsimmons wrote:

NSW RFS State Operations is currently coordinating the deployment of approximately 170 Fire Fighters, Incident Management and Specialist personnel to assist colleagues in Western Australia. This team will consist of personnel from NSW (NSWRFS, FRNSW, NPWS, FCNSW & ASNSW) as well as the ACT and NT. In addition to this request received last night, we have also provided an Air Crane, 16 tonnes of foam and 44 tonnes of retardant in recent days. Thanks everyone for offering to assist, our interstate colleagues certainly appreciate it. For latest information on WA bush fires follow this link
http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts/Pages/default.aspx

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Western Australia bushfire burns 143,000 acres

Satellite photo of two fires in Western Australia. The southern most one is near Northcliffe. Photo at 10:30 UTC, February 4, 2015. SSEC.

Satellite photo of two fires in Western Australia. The southern most one is near Northcliffe. Photo at 10:30 UTC, February 4, 2015. SSEC. (click to enlarge)

Below is an excerpt from an article at http://www.news.com.au/:

FIREFIGHTERS have been working around the clock for the past five days to protect lives and homes from the Northcliffe bushfire.

But despite their best efforts, the blaze has doubled since Tuesday night and has destroyed more than 58,000 hectares [143,000 acres].

Residents in Northcliffe and the subdivisions of Parkview, Bracken Rise and Double Bridge in the Shire Manjimup have been told their town sites are “undefendable” and they must leave, advice that most have heeded.

For people in Windy Harbour, it’s too late to leave. They’ve been told to seek shelter at the beach. A Department of Fire and Emergency spokesman said people at Windy Harbour might have to leave by boat or helicopter.

The blaze is frequently changing direction because of wind changes.

“It has been swinging around a lot,” one of the 40 or so people still in Northcliffe, general store manager Graham Munro, told Fairfax radio.

“The wind is blowing away from the town at the moment, so it’s pretty good, but there’s still ash around.

“Yesterday for a while it was heading straight at the town … across land that had previously been burnt, but then of course it swung around took off like a rocket for the coast again.”

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