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MFB firefighters sent to battle fires in Canada

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08 Aug 2014
More than 50 highly skilled Victorian firefighters and fire agency experts will travel to British Columbia to help combat fires.

MFB firefighters are amongst a contingent of Victorian firefighters and emergency service experts travelling to British Columbia to help combat fires during the northern hemisphere summer.

In total, 80 Australians will fly out in the coming days to the Canadian province after local authorities requested assistance from their Australian counterparts.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Kim Wells said the international call for help comes during an already challenging fire season in Western

“The Canadian Wildfire Management Branch has responded to almost 1,000 wildfires so far this season and the hot and dry conditions are set to continue,” Mr Wells said.

“Our firefighters battle some of the toughest blazes in the world, and recently experienced one of the most challenging summer fires campaigns; their expertise is internationally recognised and needed.

“More than 50 Victorian personnel from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, CFA, MFB and SES will be joined by firefighters from NSW, Queensland, WA, ACT and SA in British Columbia for around five weeks.

“They will provide much needed relief for the Canadians in such an intense summer period.”

Above: Dan Szabo tweeted this photo of the Slocan Park wildfire at 10:04 p.m. PT on Aug. 4, 2014, just after reporting that the wildfire had just "exploded in size." (@DanSzabo/Twitter)

The fire personnel will join Incident Management Teams in specialist roles such as Incident Commanders, fire behaviour specialists, aircraft coordinators and a small number of senior fire-line roles including strike team leaders.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the Victorian-led deployment is made possible through a formal agreement between DEPI and the British Columbia fire authorities.

“Victoria and British Columbia have a proud history of sharing resources in times of need,” Mr Smith said.

“The last time Victorians went to British Columbia was in 2009 and British Columbia staff have been to Victoria twice – in the 2006/07 fire season and in 2009.

“Our team has the necessary specialist experiences and skills in forest fire fighting to help make a difference and we wish them, and our friends in British Columbia all the best.”

They will join more than 1,600 provincial staff, more than 800 British Columbia contractors and more than 350 out-of-province personnel already actively engaged in fire suppression in British Columbia.

The incident management teams in central British Columbia. The other specialist roles will be deployed more broadly to fires across the province.

Victorian personnel breakdown:
CFA, VicSES and MFB from Melbourne, Barwon South West, Southern Metropolitan, North West Metropolitan, Grampians, Gippsland, Eastern Metro and Hume regions, DEPI, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water personnel from Barwon South West, Gippsland, Grampians, Hume, State Control Centre, Loddon Mallee and Port Phillip

The press release was originally issued by The Hon Kim Wells MP and The Hon Ryan Smith MP.

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