More B.C. wildfire firefighters sent to battle Australian wildfires | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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More B.C. wildfire firefighters sent to battle Australian wildfires

Nineteen British Columbia wildfire firefighters have been deployed to Australia as part of a Canadian contingent of 95 that have been sent to aid that country in five separate deployments since early December, 2019. Above, a recent Australian wildfire burns near Sydney.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Wikimedia Commons
January 07, 2020 - 5:30 PM

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre recently coordinated its fifth deployment of trained staff as part of a Canadian contingent from wildfire agencies across the country to Australia.

The most recent deployment brought the number of Canadians to 95 in Australia after eight more personnel left Vancouver yesterday, Jan.6.

Nineteen of those firefighters are from British Columbia.

The severity of recent wildfire seasons in British Columbia pales by comparison to this year’s statistics to date from Australia.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service media services reports more than 5.2 million hectares have burned since July 1, 2019, in 9,000 fires that have destroyed more than 1,580 houses.

Compare that with B.C.’s worst fire season in 2017, when 894,491 hectares burned and 140 structures were destroyed in B.C.

At 5.2 million hectares burned, that’s an area almost as large as the province of Nova Scotia, which is 5.5 million hectares.

Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre information officer Melanie Morin says the independent organization works to facilitate resource sharing amongst the provinces, allowing provinces and territories to share personnel and equipment, in addition to coordinating firefighting agreements with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Mexico.

“In this case, Australia put in a request. We had a list of positions they needed filled, and we take that list and bring it to the provinces to see who can help out and where, and after that we coordinate the whole group,” she says.

Those sent to Australia are not front line firefighters, rather they are filling positions such as incident management technicians in incident command, logistics, section chiefs, planning section chiefs, heavy equipment directors, fire behaviour analysts and different air operations positions.

The first contingent left Dec. 3, 2019, with the latest contingent leaving last night. The firefighters will be "down under" for a 38-day deployment.

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