Twenty-six New Zealand firefighters are departing for Australia on Sunday to help fight the wild fires that have been raging in New South Wales since the start of September.
The New Zealand contingent of six four-person crews, one task force leader and a liaison officer (25 men and one woman) will arrive in Sydney on Sunday evening, before being deployed to fires around the state.
These crews are in addition to the around 25 New Zealand Fire and Emergency personnel already in Australia assisting with air attack, heavy machinery, safety and deployment coordination.
Large wildfires have been burning in both Queensland and New South Wales for the past nine weeks.
As of this morning, there were near 70 active bushfires in New South Wales and a state of fire emergency has been called.
"Fighting fires of this magnitude is a hugely demanding task and we’re happy to continue to support our Australian colleagues when called upon," says Paul Turner, National Manager Response Capability, Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
"They’re tough firefighting conditions over there at the moment. The hot, very dry and windy conditions are causing extreme wildfire behaviour."
The New Zealand crews will be working up to 14 hour shifts for two five-day rotations. There will be a rest day between the rotations and a travel day on either side.
"Deploying overseas is a valuable development opportunity for those involved and gives them experience in different environments that they can bring back here," says Paul Turner.
Over the past 19 years we’ve deployed more than 1000 people overseas; More than 160 of them in the past 12 months to Australia. Since 2000 we have deployed 27 times to Canada, USA and Australia.
There will also be an opportunity to talk to a firefighter who has just returned from New South Wales.
Deployed personnel are from:
Bay of Plenty