Friday, April 19, 2024

Historic deployment for QPWS rangers

For the first time in Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) history, a group of Queensland rangers are joining the ongoing battle against unprecedented wildfires in Alberta, Canada, bringing their unique bushfire response skills to the fireline.

The rangers are:

  • Ranger in Charge Rob Miller, Mareeba (Northern region);
  • Ranger in Charge Paul Bufi, Cairns (Northern region);
  • Technical Support Ranger John Hand, Gold Coast (Southeast region);
  • Fire Ranger Tim Baker, Toowoomba (Southwest Region);
  • A/ Ranger in Charge Darrell Bell, Gympie (Southeast region).

The rangers will be working beside some of the best fire responders from across Australia as part of the international battle to preserve communities and the wilderness in wake of the fires raging through the extensive forest network across central-west Alberta.

“To receive the call to assist with the fight against the disastrous wildfires impacting Canada is a testament to Rob, Paul, John, Tim and Darrell’s skills and experience,” said Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leanne Linard.

“These men are taking with them a unique set of skills and years of experience in responding to local landscape fires.

“Of behalf of all Queenslanders, I wish the men Godspeed and a safe return. Our thoughts will be with them on their deployment.”

Due to the nature of forest fires, QPWS personnel and other national park and fire agency staff from across Australia have been called upon to support the Canadian authorities because of their unique skills and experience in fighting landscape fires.

The rangers’ bushfire management skills will complement the teams of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services personnel, who are now on their third deployment to Canada since May this year.

“It wasn’t long ago that we were facing our own bushfire disaster across Queensland like we’d never seen before, so I know how overwhelming it can be,” said Ranger in Charge, Paul Bufi.

“I am nervous about going when it’s something we haven’t done before, but in a situation like this when it’s all hands-on deck you’ve just got to put those feelings aside and get the job done.”

The five QPWS rangers will join other Australian responders who will fly to Canada tomorrow.

“Like Queensland, Canada is known across the world for its national parks and wildlife, so to see that under threat is heart-breaking especially for rangers,” said Ranger in Charge, Rob Miller.

“We just hope that we can put our fire management knowledge to good use to preserve not just the nearby communities but the environment too.”

After arriving in Edmonton, Alberta, they will travel to communities at-risk of the fires and spend the next month sleeping in tents between 12-hour shifts on the frontline.

Due to the intense and rapidly-changing nature of bushfire response, the rangers were put through rigorous fitness and practical testing to ensure they were well equipped to face the task they are being asked to perform.

While there are similarities between the way wildfires are fought in Queensland and Canada, the QPWS personnel will be embedded with local authorities and other fire fighters on the frontline to learn how Canadians respond to their forest fires.

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