A group of 46 Victorians return to Melbourne on Friday, after more than a month assisting Canadian emergency services and communities in their wildfire emergency.
The team, including 42 people from Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and four people from Country Fire Authority (CFA), have spent the last 35 days providing much needed relief to exhausted Canadian crews.
Arduous firefighters from FFMVic have been backburning areas not yet impacted in an effort to contain the fires. There are also several staff providing logistical, administrative and communications support behind the scenes.
A total of 115 Victorians have travelled to Canada since 25 May, as part of a wider Australian and New Zealand response, with all Australian states sending specialist support. Crews have also been deployed from the United States, South Africa, France, Chile, Costa Rica, Portugal and Spain.
The wildfires continue to challenge crews, with around 422 active fires across Canada. Those returning have received fantastic feedback from their Canadian counterparts and communities, praising their approach and professionalism.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said it’s great to welcome home the first contingent of our highly skilled crews who have provided invaluable support to their Canadian colleagues and their communities.
“This team of 46 have represented our state in the best possible way through helping our Canadian colleagues, as the Canadians supported us during the 2019/20 fires,” he said.
Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said it was important to support Canada in its time of need, particularly after so many Canadian firefighters helped Victoria during the devastating 2019/20 bushfire season.
“We have contributed 80 experienced campaign firefighters who have worked incredibly hard and made a real difference to the Canadian firefight. They’ve been supported by amazing incident management, vehicle support, logistics and communications personnel from our partner agencies across from Australia and New Zealand, who are working extremely well to integrate into the Canadian wildfire management system,” he said.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said Victorians can be proud of the valuable contribution our members continue to make to help protect Canadian communities from wildfires.
“Our CFA personnel are highly trained to assist in a wide range of emergencies and I thank this group for showcasing their expertise internationally and helping communities abroad,” he said.