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.