A special taskforce of Western Australian firefighters will travel to Canada to help relieve exhausted crews battling the country’s worst wildfires in recent years.
The 17 men and women – from as far as the Kimberley and Great Southern – travelled to Perth over the weekend to undertake final physical and medical examinations ahead of their trip.
They will be deployed to some of the hardest hit areas in Canada, including Ontario and British Columbia, where a State of Emergency was declared last week.
The taskforce is made up of eight volunteer firefighters, three Department of Fire and Emergency Services personnel and six Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Parks and Wildlife Service staff members.
They are due to depart for Sydney later today where they will be met by New South Wales Rural Fire Service personnel who will also be travelling to assist in Canada.
The firefighters bring a range of skills to help battle the challenging fire front – including acting as incident controllers, divisional commanders, fire behaviour analysts, taskforce leaders, operations and planning officers and aerial firefighting specialists.
They join firefighters from Mexico and the United States of America assisting with the frontline response across Canada.
The seven-week deployment includes two weeks in quarantine when the group arrive back in Australia.
As stated by Emergency Services Minister Reece Whitby:
“Having experienced our own bushfire emergency in Wooroloo earlier this year, the scale of the devastation caused by the wildfires in Canada is terrible to see, and we want to provide whatever support we can.
“I’m proud that we are able to deploy a taskforce of skilled volunteer firefighters and emergency services personnel to help the Canadian communities during their time of need.
“Australia has benefited from the generosity of Canadian firefighters in recent years and this dedicated group is helping to return that favour by assisting fellow firefighters to protect communities.
“Our best wishes go to this taskforce and I know their skills will be a great help to Canadian authorities as they battle this wildfire emergency.”
As stated by Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
“Western Australians know only too well the devastating toll out-of-control bushfires can have on communities.
“That’s why we always stand ready to help others in need and are committed to providing support overseas during wildfires.
“These dedicated Western Australian firefighters are equipped with the skills and knowledge to lend a hand and will assist in relieving exhausted crews on the ground in some of the hardest hit areas.
“I am very proud that we are able to help Canada’s emergency services in what has been a challenging bushfire season for them and extend my sincere thanks to the taskforce.”
Emergency Services Minister’s office – 6552 6300