Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford today (Thursday) praised the work of 13 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) personnel, who are returning home after helping fight wildfires in the United States and Canada.
Mr Crawford said 11 QFES firefighters will fly back into Brisbane from the US this Saturday after a 37-day deployment – with another two personnel scheduled to arrive from Canada early next week.
“As you would expect, emotions will be running high with both pride and relief when these QFES personnel arrive home,” Mr Crawford said.
“I’m certainly proud of the role they played in relieving exhausted American and Canadian crews, who have for months been battling fires on a scale we can barely imagine.
“It was not only an opportunity for them to share their extensive experience and knowledge, but also a chance to draw on the expertise of international counterparts in new terrain and environments.”
The 11 QFES representatives were among 188 fire specialists from across Australia and New Zealand, who travelled to the US West Coast in early August to assist with the firefighting effort.
The two highly-trained QFES personnel currently in Canada are helping firefighters battle a series of wildfires in British Columbia.
Mr Crawford said the QFES personnel had been working a 14-day on, two-day off roster – putting in 12 hour shifts every day for the duration of their stay in several hot spots - including the massive Mendocino Complex Fire, where an American firefighter was killed.
“You never want to see a country being ravaged by a natural disaster and we are always ready to support the international community should the need arise,” Mr Crawford said.
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the request for support from international counterparts was testament to the high level of skill and expertise for which QFES personnel were renowned.
“It is critical QFES has the capacity to support partner agencies when required, so we ensure our personnel receive extensive training to be ready to respond to major incidents around the world,” Ms Carroll said.
“QFES proudly participates in international deployments regularly. We have developed strong and mutually supportive relationships with partner agencies globally, and it’s comforting knowing that we can offer - and request - help should we ever need it.”
Ms Carroll said a combined US and Canadian deployment debrief would be held in coming weeks to consolidate experience and knowledge learned during the response efforts.
“As an agency, we are always looking to learn. By assisting international operations, we have an opportunity to gain knowledge that may influence how we manage future major incidents here in Queensland,” she said.
“I am incredibly proud of the efforts of our personnel and deployments such as this clearly demonstrate the level of respect QFES holds internationally.”
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Honourable Craig Crawford