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Overseas firefighters arrive to assist in Victorian fires

2 January 2020

A contingent of emergency management personnel from the US have arrived to assist in managing Victoria’s ongoing and significant fire threat.

Thirty-nine firefighters and two liaison officers from across the US, including from Phoenix, Georgia and Idaho, will join Victorian crews in eastern Victoria following their arrival in Melbourne on Thursday.

The firefighting experts will assist in regaining road access across East Gippsland, and be deployed with local crews on fire tankers from Saturday, following briefing and training sessions at the Victorian Emergency Management Institute in Mount Macedon on Friday.

These American firefighters will be deployed on a 28-day rotation.

“Our strong and ongoing relationships with North American firefighting agencies means we are able to share personnel, skills, knowledge, equipment and technology in times of emergency,” Victorian State Response Controller Stephanie Rotarangi said.

“We are extremely grateful for the expertise and support provided, and thank our North American colleagues for responding so quickly to the call for assistance, and to their families and employers for supporting this deployment.”

This contingent of 41 is the first of two groups from North America to arrive in Victoria this week, with 71 firefighters (61 from the US and 10 from Canada) set to arrive next week.

As of Thursday afternoon more than 1,000 firefighters are continuing to work on fires across Victoria, with 51 fires going across the state that have burnt more than 784,000 hectares.