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Australia assists with wildfires in Canada

13 July 2015

Victoria is heading a 95-person, national deployment to assist with the escalating wildfire situation in Canada.

The emergency management personnel from across the Australia will fly to Vancouver today to assist with fighting several large wildfires that have been raging in Canada’s western provinces over the last few weeks.

Currently, there are hundreds of new fires starting on a daily basis and more than 450 wildfires burning, totalling nearly 1.3 million hectares.

Crews from Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia will be sent to help in key areas that have been affected in and around British Columbia and Alberta. Seven liaison officers are already there.

The 102 Australians will fulfil specialist leadership roles in incident management and aircraft support.

Victoria’s contingent comprises of 21 personnel from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), 12 from Parks Victoria, nine from CFA and single representatives from Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Emergency Management Victoria.

Personnel are from across the state including seven from Gippsland, one from Loddon Mallee, 10 from Barwon South West, five from the Hume region, five from the Grampians and 10 from across Melbourne.

British Columbia’s relationship with Australia in sharing firefighting resources has been in place for over 15 years. This agreement allows for the exchange of personnel, knowledge, skills, equipment, technology and mutual support in the event of an emergency.

Fire personnel from British Columbia were deployed to Australia in 2007 and 2009 to help respond to busy fire seasons here, given the Australian fire season typically occurs during British Columbia’s winter and spring months. Personnel from Australia and New Zealand were deployed to British Columbia to assist with firefighting efforts in 2009 and 2014.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said it is expected the Australian deployment will assist in Canada for around six weeks.

Our aim is to support our Canadian counterparts to bring the wildfires under control as quickly as possible,” he said.

“Australia has skilled firefighters and emergency management personnel who can operate in specialist roles and can work with our international partners.

“Our cross-border arrangements allow us to share personnel, resources and aircraft and it is important that we continue to operate with no borders and support each other and our international colleagues where needed.”

“We are proud of the relationship Australia has built with Canada over the past 15 years, and the support we can provide during their time of need.”

For the latest information on the deployment, please click HERE