Minster for Emergency Services Troy Grant today thanked the 48 firefighters who will travel to British Columbia to assist their Canadian counterparts battle hundreds of devastating wildfires that have forced 40,000 people to evacuate their homes.
The Australian taskforce includes 19 NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Fire and Rescue NSW personnel, who fly out from Sydney Airport this morning in response to a Canadian request for assistance.
Mr Grant said this deployment will provide much needed support for firefighters in Canada, who have been battling blazes for a number of weeks. “NSW always stands ready to lend our friends overseas a helping hand in their time of need,” Mr Grant said.
“Not only will this deployment give firefighters in Canada who have been working tirelessly to protect life and property some respite, it will also provide our own personnel with invaluable experience working in foreign conditions.
“I understand more than 160 fires were burning across British Columbia over the weekend, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.
“Sadly, our State knows all too well the destruction that bush fires can cause and we are more than willing to share our firefighting experience and expertise whenever and wherever necessary.
“To the firefighters departing today, on behalf of the people of NSW, I wish you well. Stay safe and know that we are all very proud and grateful for the selfless work you do.”
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the 48 firefighters will fill incident management and specialist positions, including incident control, operations, public information, logistics, aviation and fire behaviour analysis.
“NSW fire agencies have a longstanding tradition of helping out our fellow firefighters, no matter where they are, and we are pleased to be offering this support to the Canadian Fire Services.” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
The taskforce will be deployed for up to 42 days.