Friday, April 19, 2024

Firefighters join Canadian wildfire forces

Western Australian firefighters and emergency management personnel will fly to Canada this week to help battle catastrophic wildfires burning around Alberta and British Columbia.

Six Department of Fire and Emergency Services and 17 Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions staff will join Canadian authorities, providing valuable support with their skills in frontline firefighting and complex incident management.

“Western Australia stands ready to assist Canada and I’m proud we are able to deploy some of our most experienced and highly trained personnel,” said WA Emergency Services Minister, Stephen Dawson.

“Firefighters in Canada have been battling extreme conditions for weeks and Australian deployments will provide some much-needed relief and support.

“I thank each crew member for their enduring commitment to helping communities in need and wish them safe travels.”

The first contingent, comprising of 10 crew members qualified in arduous firefighting, two heavy equipment supervisors and a senior agency liaison officer, will leave Perth tomorrow.

The second deployment, an incident management team of 10 senior staff with specialist skills in fire leadership, fire behaviour analytics and incident planning, leaves on Friday.

Canada has experienced major wildfires in recent weeks with more than 1.7 million hectares burnt to date and no relief in sight from the unrelenting hot and dry weather conditions.

Local personnel will be deployed for four weeks as part of a 222-strong contingent from Australian and New Zealand fire agencies, coordinated by the Australasian Fire Authorities Council’s National Resource Sharing Centre.

“I’m incredibly proud we can deploy these skilled volunteer firefighters and emergency services personnel to help protect Canadian communities in their time of need,” said Environment Minister, Reece Whitby.

“Western Australia is pleased to support our friends in Canada who have always responded to our calls for help and stood by us during devastating bushfires.

“I wish our firefighters well as they battle this wildfire emergency over the next five weeks. They will provide critical support to exhausted crews on the ground in some of the hardest hit areas.”

A taskforce of 17 WA firefighters spent several weeks in Canada assisting with wildfires in July and August 2021.

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