The second contingent of wildland firefighters from the United States and Canada has arrived and replaced the first group, both of which are assisting our down under brothers and sisters during Australia’s 2009-2010 bushfire season. Here is a press release from Victoria’s Department of Sustainability and Environment that was issued yesterday, February 22.
A new team of 17 forest fire experts from the United States and Canada has arrived in Victoria to replace the 15 who have spent the past month based across the state.
Two firefighters, Miriam Morrill and George Sheppard, are joining the effort in the Otways and will be based at the Colac centre.
Department of Sustainability and Environment Otways District Manager Andrew Morrow said the firefighters in the first contingent made a valuable contribution to DSE’s firefighting efforts.
“The US and Canadian fire experts shared their experience and skills with firefighters across the state,” Mr Morrow said.
“Here in the Otways, Jeff Gardetto and Mark Struble contributed their information and aviation skills in pre-formed teams at Colac and this helped build the local capacity.
“We welcome this new team as it arrives to continue that good work and give the existing crew a spell after a month of hard work.”
“Fourteen members of the new team will be posted to the same regional locations as the fire experts they are replacing – Otway Ranges, Ballarat, Orbost, Traralgon, Woori Yallock, Bendigo and Alexandra,” Mr Morrow said.
“The remaining two members of the new contingent will be based in Melbourne as part of the team in the State Control Centre (SCC) working on coordination for firefighting effort across Victoria.
The experts have skills in aviation, planned burn management and execution, field operations, wildland urban interface and information management. It is a valuable program to enable the sharing of information and experiences.
Mr Morrow said the CFA, DSE and its partner agencies have firefighting skills which are recognised around the world and this exchange program is adding to those technical abilities as well as increasing the state’s level of preparedness.
“The knowledge, experience and technical know-how that the US and Canadian personnel bring to Victoria will also improve future fire management operations by providing excellent mentoring, development and learning opportunities for our own people during this fire season,” he said.
The program also complements existing international agreements in place for general firefighting personnel that Victorian agencies will continue to call upon if necessary.