Firefighters from New Zealand and Australia to assist with wildfires in the U.S.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho is mobilizing firefighters from Australia and New Zealand to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in the western United States. The two countries have been key partners with the U.S. fire community for more than 50 years but were last mobilized in 2008 when heavy fire activity was similar to this year.

The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group requested 71 fire managers and specialists.  Although final details of the arrangement are still being worked out, the contingent from Australia and New Zealand is expected to arrive in Boise on August 23 for a one-day induction to learn about current fire behavior, fuels, and weather conditions. Upon completion of the orientation, they will be assigned to large fires.

The request includes 15 Division Supervisors; 15 Task Force/Strike Team Leaders; 15 Helicopter Managers; 10 Heavy Equipment Bosses; 10 Safety Officers; 4 Regional Liaison Officers; and two National Liaison Officers.  Fifteen of the total are from New Zealand. Assistance from Australia and New Zealand is a good fit primarily because their fire organizations are very similar to the United States national fire organization in training requirements and structure.

Share

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.

****

“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…”

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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

Share