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Final members of Australian contingent arrive home from Canada wildfires

13 August 2015

The final members of the Australian firefighting contingent sent to Canada will return home tomorrow after assisting with raging wildfires in the south-west of the country.

In total 104 Australian crews have been part of the international effort to battle more than 5,000 wildfires in Canada this season. Three million hectares have been burnt so far, more than double the land area affected by fire in 2014.

Emergency Management Commissioner, Craig Lapsley said the Australian contingent were to be commended for providing vital incident management support to Canada during this period

“They will walk away from this experience with improved skills and greater knowledge to support Australia’s emergency management effort as we move closer to our own summer season,” he said.

During the deployment, 52 personnel were located in British Columbia and 47 in Alberta. Five Liaison Officers were based in Winnipeg.

The Canadian deployment offered Australian crews the opportunity to learn new skills from their international counterparts. The specialist skills of Australian personnel were welcomed by the Canadian fire agencies, and they carried out specialist leadership roles in incident management and aircraft support.

Tomorrow’s returning Australian personnel include: Victoria (23), New South Wales (6), Western Australia (3), Tasmania (1) and Queensland (1).

The largest contingent, from Victoria, will arrive in Melbourne. This includes crews from CFA, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), and Parks Victoria.

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.

“Not only has our relationship with Canada been strengthened by this deployment, but the interstate bonds between our emergency management agencies. This will ensure we are better prepared to work as one and support our international colleagues when called upon,” Commissioner Lapsley said.

Emergency Management Victoria has coordinated the deployment on behalf of all Australian states and territories.