For the first time since 2010, a team of over 100 American firefighters has been deployed to the sovereign country to join in on the efforts to put out the raging flames.
About 100 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand flew halfway across the world in 2018 to help the United States battle the devastating California wildfires. The highly trained personnel played a crucial part in bringing the flames under control and now, America is returning the favor in splendid fashion. As Australia continues to fight the catastrophic wildfires that have ripped through huge swaths of its land for months, the US federal government is lending our neighbor down under a helping hand. For the first time since 2010, a team of over 100 American firefighters has been deployed to the sovereign country to join in on the efforts to put out the raging flames.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the team of American firefighters currently helping Australia also includes some who fought the catastrophic California wildfires. The National Interagency Fire Center—the federal agency that's coordinating the deployment efforts—announced in a Facebook post on January 8, that as of that day, "the United States has sent 159 wildfire and aviation management personnel to Australia, in response to a request for assistance by the Australian Fire Authorities Council. Personnel includes 87 U.S. Forest Service, 48 Bureau of Land Management, 10 National Park Service, 7 U.S. Indian Affairs and 7 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
As one of these American firefighter teams arrived in Australia on Thursday, they were greeted with a rousing round of applause at Sydney International Airport, reports the New York Post. Shane Fitzsimmons, the commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, tweeted a video of their warm welcome, writing, "US firefighters arrived at Sydney Int Airport this week, on their way to assist with fire fighting in Victoria. Coming through, all gathered gave a spontaneous & lengthy round of applause, reflecting the gratitude & admiration we all have for their generosity."
US fire fighters arrived at Sydney Int Airport this week, on their way to assist with fire fighting in Victoria.— Shane Fitzsimmons (@RFSCommissioner) January 9, 2020
Coming through, all gathered gave a spontaneous & lengthy round of applause, reflecting the gratitude & admiration we all have for their generosity. #NSWRFS @NSWRFS pic.twitter.com/5epg5y4qxX
Meanwhile, Canada also sent some of its firefighters to help Australia in its time of need. According to CBC, Stephen Tulle—duty officer with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre—revealed late last month that a group of 15 firefighters set out for Queensland on December 30 and that 21 more were expected to fly out in the following week. He added that the contingent of Canadian wildfire specialists in Queensland and New South Wales would be 87-member strong by January 4. A CBC report published on Tuesday states that although the number of Canadian wildfire specialists is fluctuating, a total of 95 Canadian firefighters are currently believed to be in Australia.
Tulle also revealed that this is the first time Canada has made a co-ordinated effort to send firefighters to Australia, although the latter has previously sent crews to the North American country a few times. In fact, Australian fire crews were vital in helping British Columbia handle widespread wildfires in 2017 and 2018, he added. The Canadian men and women currently returning the favor will hold fire manager roles, related to command, planning, logistics, and aviation management, said Tulle adding that most of them are already are familiar with their Australian counterparts.
"It's like old homecoming week. They're down there and they say, 'Hey, we worked together in British Columbia in 2018,' and so they do know each other. They do have those contacts and those relationships. Our people, kudos to them, have been standing up saying, 'Yeah, you know what, they've been here for us and we'd like to be here for them,'" he said.