Two highly-trained Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) personnel will deploy to Canada this week, joining an international contingent of fire specialists fighting wildfires in British Columbia and Ontario.
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the QFES personnel were among a number of Australian firefighters set to travel to Canada on Wednesday for a 30-day deployment.
Mr Crawford said the QFES personnel – on top of a deployment of personnel to the US – would serve in a critical operational role.
“QFES is sending highly experienced fire behaviour specialists to the heart of the disaster to assist local crews and other international agencies, predicting how these fires may spread, and how best to combat these wildfires,” Mr Crawford said.
“Canada saw more than 90 wildfires start over just 24 hours over Saturday and Sunday, with more than 5000 active fires burning in Canada affecting more than 850,000 hectares of land.
“There is no doubt firefighters will be confronted with challenging conditions, but I know they are up to the task and keen to get out there and assist in any way they can.”
Mr Crawford said 11 QFES personnel departed Brisbane last Thursday to join the fight against wildfires in the US.
He said they were travelling from Idaho to Redding (North California), and Redmond in Oregon to join response efforts and crews on the ground.
“I am extremely proud of our firefighters - both those who are travelling overseas, and those back home who are supporting these operations,” he said.
QFES Deputy Commissioner Mark Roche said crews would undergo final checks today (Monday), including physical and medical tests, bag checks and briefings.
“Firefighters will receive a final briefing at the State Deployment Centre today (Monday), prior to their departure to Sydney on Tuesday, and then to Canada on Wednesday,” Mr Roche said.
“QFES has a strong relationship with its international counterparts and I am proud our personnel are held in such high regard nationally and internationally.”
With fires rapidly spreading across Ontario and British Columbia, Mr Roche said staff could be deployed to a range of areas in the coming weeks.
“QFES is currently working to ensure crews and resources are ready and available should they be called upon to assist further in the coming weeks,” Mr Roche said.
“I am confident our personnel are well-trained and prepared for what they will face while they are in Canada.”